CDC Study Shows mRNA Vaccination During Pregnancy Protects Infants From COVID-19

The CDC released the first real world data February 15 in a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) that infants younger than 6 months were overall 61% less likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19 if their mothers were vaccinated during pregnancy through completion of a 2-dose primary mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series with either Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) or Moderna (Spikevax).

The CDC released the first real world data February 15 in a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) that infants younger than 6 months were overall 61% less likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19 if their mothers were vaccinated during pregnancy through completion of a 2-dose primary mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series with either Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) or Moderna (Spikevax). This news of COVID-19 protection is extremely critical since vaccination of infants less than 6 months is not currently being studied.

The case-control study analyzed data from 20 pediatric hospitals in 17 states July 1, 2021-January 17, 2022 and included 379 infants. Additionally, the Delta variant was predominant through mid-December after which Omicron became dominant. Mothers who were partially vaccinated were excluded from the study, which was defined using the following criteria:

  • Received 1 vaccine dose during pregnancy and none prior to pregnancy
  • Vaccinated after pregnancy
  • Received Johnson & Johnson vaccine
  • Received 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccine before pregnancy
  • Received more than 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before delivery

Among 176 infants younger than 6 months hospitalized with COVID-19, 148 (84%) were born to mothers who were not vaccinated during pregnancy. Additionally, 88% of infants less than 6 months with COVID-19 who were admitted to the ICU were born to unvaccinated mothers. One infant who died during the study was also born to a mother who was not vaccinated while pregnant.

“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,” said Dana Meaney-Delman, MD, Chief of Infant Outcomes Monitoring Research and Prevention Branch in a CDC Media Telebriefing.

Additionally, this adds to the growing body of evidence demonstrating the importance of vaccination for maternal protection against COVID-19 and to pass antibodies to infants who are unable to get vaccinated at this time.

According to the CDC, individuals who are pregnant are at an increased risk of severe COVID-19 that could result in hospitalization and mortality. Therefore, COVID-19 vaccination is recommended during pregnancy by the CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Healthcare providers can play an important role in educating and administering mRNA COVID-19 vaccines to pregnant patients to improve maternal and infant health outcomes.