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Pregnant Latinas have some of the lowest vaccination rates against COVID-19 compared to other ethnic/racial groups, according to a report from the CDC.
The disparity is likely due to less culturally competent and accessible healthcare in communities of color, as well as vaccine misinformation about fertility and pregnancy.
The CDC encourages all people who are eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and that pregnancy should not be a barrier.
“COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people 12 years and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future,” according to the CDC’s website.
With more culturally relevant resources regarding vaccine safety for fertility and pregnancy, vaccine confidence can be improved in Latino communities and other communities of color that have low rates of vaccination.
What Does the CDC Report Say on Pregnancy and COVID-19 Vaccination?
CDC data from June 2021 shows that COVID-19 vaccination has lagged for those pregnant in all ethnic/racial groups, but mostly for Black and Latino people.
“As of May 8, 2021, 16.3% of pregnant women identified in CDC’s Vaccine Safety Datalink had received ≥1 dose of a COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy in the United States,” according to the CDC report.
Unfortunately, rates were lowest in Latino and Black communities.
“Vaccination was lowest among Hispanic (11.9%) and non-Hispanic Black women (6.0%) and women aged 18–24 years (5.5%) and highest among non-Hispanic Asian women (24.7%) and women aged 35–49 years (22.7%),” according to the CDC report.
The data is important as pregnancy is linked to an increased risk for severe illness and death from COVID-19.
That’s why the CDC is urging those pregnant to get vaccinated.
“CDC encourages all pregnant people or people who are thinking about becoming pregnant and those breastfeeding to get vaccinated to protect themselves from COVID-19,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the CDC, in a recent statement.
“The vaccines are safe and effective, and it has never been more urgent to increase vaccinations as we face the highly transmissible Delta variant and see severe outcomes from COVID-19 among unvaccinated pregnant people.”
Vaccine Misinformation on Pregnancy
The reason for low vaccination rates among those pregnant in Latino and Black communities may be largely due to vaccine misinformation about pregnancy and fertility.
Many vaccine conspiracy theories claimed that the vaccine would affect the ability to get pregnant or induce miscarriages.
“The myth that vaccines can harm reproductive health remains concerningly widespread, traveling from a handful of anti-vaccine activists to conservative commentators to influencers who amplify it on Instagram and YouTube. In one June survey, 25 percent of respondents and more than 52 percent of those who did not intend to get vaccinated said they believed vaccines could damage women’s fertility,” according to Vox.
The top concerns for Latinos regarding COVID-19 vaccines are safety, cost, diversity in the clinical trials, and availability for undocumented people, according to a toolkit by the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative.
There has also been a lack of culturally relevant resources that directly address the vaccine concerns of Latinos.
Some organizations like Greater than COVID and the Ad Council have worked to address that need with resources like bilingual videos of Latino doctors who answer questions about the vaccine and a toolkit to help Latino communities get vaccinated. Salud America! is promoting bilingual stories of vaccine heroes, and Combat COVID is promoting diversity in COVID-19 clinical trials.
What Can You Do to Promote Vaccine Confidence?
As vaccine rollout continues, we hope that states will prioritize Latinos and other people of color who have been dramatically impacted by COVID-19, particularly those who are at high risk of illness due to conditions like pregnancy.
One resource you can use is Salud America!’s Latino COVID-19 Vaccine “Change of Heart” Bilingual Storytelling Campaign. The campaign shares the stories of real Latinos who overcame misinformation, got the vaccine, reconnected with family, and are helping end the pandemic.
Another resource is Salud America!’s “Juntos, We Can Stop COVID-19” campaign. This campaign aims to help Latino families take action to slow the spread of coronavirus.
The #JuntosStopCovid campaign features bilingual, culturally relevant fact sheets, infographics, and video role model stories to encourage Latinos to change their public health behaviors, including getting the vaccine when available.
Share the campaign with your friends, family, and colleagues!