▶ Watch Video: CDC says COVID-19 vaccines are safe for pregnant women

Mothers who get vaccinated against COVID-19 while pregnant are likely to pass on protection against the virus to their newborn babies, new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. The public health agency recommended people who are pregnant, breastfeeding or looking to conceive get vaccinated.

Scientists studied 379 infants under the age of six months at 20 different children’s hospitals across 17 states from July 2021 to January 2022.

Of the 176 babies who were hospitalized with COVID-19, 84% of them were born to mothers who did not get vaccinated during their pregnancy, the study determined. Researchers also found that 88% of babies admitted to intensive care units with COVID-19 were born to mothers who were not vaccinated. The one infant who died during the study was born to an unvaccinated mother. 

According to the findings, infants who were younger than six months and had a mother who received a 2-dose primary mRNA COVID-19 vaccination during their pregnancy were 61% less likely to be hospitalized with the virus.

“The bottom line is that maternal vaccination is a really important way to help protect these young ones,” chief of the CDC’s Infant Outcomes Monitoring Research and Prevention Branch Dr. Dana Meaney-Delman said Tuesday. 

She urged pregnant people to get vaccinated, as vaccines against COVID-19 have not yet been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for children younger than 5. The study notes that infants younger than six months are at risk of “life threatening complications from COVID-19, including acute respiratory failure.” 

The study said it’s not yet clear when in a pregnancy is the ideal time to get vaccinated. It also did not take into account mothers who may have previously tested positive for COVID-19.

Last year, the CDC officially began to recommend COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant people. Data shows that pregnant people who contract the virus are at an increased risk of severe complications and death. A study from researchers at Boston University last month also found that COVID-19 vaccines do not reduce fertility for couples. 

“I cannot emphasize enough how today’s findings reinforce the importance of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy both to protect the people who are pregnant and to help protect their babies,” Meaney-Delman said.