FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The CDC publicly urged pregnant Americans to get vaccinated of COVID-19, citing statistics that indicate an increased risk for death and pregnancy complications. In interviews Thursday, Arkansas’ top epidemiologist and a nationally-renowned doctor both said they stress the same importance.
Dr. Jennifer Dillaha is the state epidemiologist for the Arkansas Dept. of Health. She said nationally, around 30% of people who fall in this category have been vaccinated. The numbers are lower in Arkansas.
“Our numbers are not likely to be higher than the national numbers,” Dillaha said. “I think overall we’ll likely be lower than the national numbers.”
Dillaha said misinformation spreading throughout communities could be to blame for the low vaccination numbers, but vaccines are safe for expectant Arkansans and could keep them from having problems in their pregnancies.
“There is no [COVID-19] vaccine available in the United States that interferes with fertility or pregnancy,” Dillaha said, noting pregnant women shouldn’t take live vaccines because they pose a risk to the fetus.
Dillaha said data shows the risks pregnant people face if COVID-19 is contracted.
“A higher number of women who are pregnant are ending up in the hospital, oftentimes in the ICU,” Dillaha said. “They don’t do well, and almost all of them are unvaccinated.”
Dr. Francis Collins is one of the country’s top doctors. He’s the Director for the National Institutes of Health (Maryland). Collins spoke Thursday with KNWA/Fox24 and said he overwhelmingly agrees with the CDC.
I was thrilled today to chat with @NIHDirector Dr. Francis Collins about vaccine outreach in Arkansas. 💉— Andrew Epperson (@eppersports) September 30, 2021
We talked about booster shots, messaging & more. Tune into @KNWAFOX24 tonight to hear from one of the country’s top medical doctors. #NWANews pic.twitter.com/hpuvM9kmqW
“If you’re not vaccinated, pregnancy puts you at very high risk of very severe disease both for yourself and for your baby,” Collins said.
Though the CDC is one of the most well-respected health organizations in the world, Dillaha said there are other unrelated groups making the same recommendation, particularly those who work directly with women and pregnant Americans.
“These are the groups of doctors that take care of these women,” Dillaha said. “What they are finding is there are women in the hospital, some of them dying, because of COVID-19. None are in the hospital because of the vaccine.”