Doctors working to improve vaccination rates among pregnant Black women

Despite the surge in new omicron cases, there are many who haven’t gotten a shot yet, including pregnant women.

Studies show pregnant Black women have some of the lowest vaccination rates while facing higher rates of death during pregnancy compared to white women.

Dr. Racheal Villanueva said Black women have several reservations about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Bias and racism in the healthcare system, knowing that our maternal mortality in the healthcare system is three to four times that of white women, experimentation on our people in the past, all of that makes our rates even lower so it really is a problem,” said Dr. Villanueva.

She serves as the president for the National Medical Association, the largest and oldest network of Black doctors in the U.S. Villanueva said they’re working to improve vaccination rates for pregnant Black women.

As of early December only 22% of pregnant Black women are fully vaccinated, the lowest percentage when compared to other ethnic groups.

“We know that there have been adverse pregnancy outcomes for women who have been exposed to covid-19, stillbirth, and, you know, and preterm delivery,” she said.

Dr. Villanueva said she is having one-on-one conversations with patients and their partners about the vaccine. Additionally, there’s also more real-world data about the vaccine’s impact on pregnant women and babies that’s easing concerns too. She says during the pregnancy and through breastfeeding infants are getting protection from COVID-19.

“Babies have very immature immune systems when they come out, so they really have nothing to fight off the virus with and obviously they can’t get vaccine,” she said.

Dr. Villanueva said it’s safe to get a COVID-19 vaccine at any point during pregnancy.