(CNN) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that pregnant people get a COVID-19 vaccine, Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Friday.
Her comment follows a new study that found no safety concerns among a large group of pregnant people who received the vaccine in their third trimester, and no safety concerns for their babies.
“As such, CDC recommends that pregnant people receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” Walensky said during a White House COVID-19 briefing. “We know that this is a deeply personal decision, and I encourage people to talk to their doctors or primary care providers to determine what is best for them and for their baby.”
The CDC vaccine guidelines online had not been updated by early Friday afternoon. The online guidelines said that pregnant women may receive a COVID-19 vaccine when one is available, and getting vaccinated is a personal choice, but did not say the vaccine is recommended.
CNN reached out to the CDC for further clarification.
On Wednesday, the New England Journal of Medicine published preliminary findings from CDC scientists that determined that the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna do not appear to pose any serious risk during pregnancy.
Last month, another study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are effective in pregnant and lactating women, and they can pass protective antibodies to newborns.
Clinical trials of the vaccines did not include pregnant people so there was limited data on the safety of vaccination in pregnant people and babies. Scientists intend to follow up with the pregnant people in the study to assess the long-term safety of the vaccine during pregnancy
CDC and FDA lift recommended pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccine
The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration on Friday lifted their recommended pause on the use of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine.
The agencies recommended the pause April 13 after learning of six cases of a rare blood clotting syndrome among women who had recently received the vaccine.
“During the pause, medical and scientific teams at the FDA and CDC examined available data to assess the risk of thrombosis involving the cerebral venous sinuses, or CVST (large blood vessels in the brain), and other sites in the body (including but not limited to the large blood vessels of the abdomen and the veins of the legs) along with thrombocytopenia, or low blood platelet counts,” the agencies said in a joint statement.
“The teams at FDA and CDC also conducted extensive outreach to providers and clinicians to ensure they were made aware of the potential for these adverse events and could properly manage and recognize these events due to the unique treatment required for these blood clots and low platelets, also known as thrombosis-thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS),” the statement said.
The CDC said it has collected reports of 15 such cases, all in women and 13 of them in women under 50.
Earlier Friday, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) agreed the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks from rare blood clots linked to the shot.
The FDA will update the label for the vaccine, indicating that women under the age of 50 should be aware of the risk of blood clots from the vaccine.
Walensky said Friday that Johnson & Johnson vaccinations may resume immediately.
“I support the ACIP’s recommendation that the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine be used for persons 18 years of age or older in the United States population under the FDA emergency use authorization, and I have signed this recommendation,” she said.
The two-dose mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are made using different technology from J&J’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine and have not been linked to rare cases of blood clots.
States, tribes and territories have more than 9 million Johnson & Johnson doses on hand as they waited to see whether federal health officials lift the J&J pause, President Joe Biden’s coronavirus adviser Jeff Zients told CNN.
New study shows why vaccinating everybody against COVID-19 is essential
Although there’s a growing sense that normalcy is within reach after the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, experts are continuing to push for more vaccinations — particularly as new research details the long-term consequences for those who are diagnosed with the virus.
In what the authors say is the largest study to date of the long-term impact, researchers from Washington University in St. Louis found that people who had COVID-19 seem to face a much greater risk of death and need more medical care in the six months after their diagnosis, even if they had a milder form of the disease.
“We have to think about the burgeoning health crisis this is going to cause for years to come,” CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta told Anderson Cooper on Thursday.
The US has been making strides in vaccinating the public, but tens of millions of Americans still haven’t started their inoculations and experts say the US needs much higher levels of vaccination to control the virus. And younger Americans, many of whom recently became eligible for a shot, are less likely than older residents to claim they have or will get vaccinated, a recent poll found.
But the Washington University study shows what many experts have said for much of the last year — you don’t want this virus, Gupta said.
Between one and six months after getting sick, patients who had COVID-19 had a 60% higher risk of death than those patients that never had COVID-19. Patients who had COVID-19 also had a 20% greater chance of needing more medical care over the six months after their diagnosis and more medication.
Unfortunately, the treatment options for long-haul COVID are limited, Dr. Leana Wen told Cooper. But the good news is that in addition to preventing infections, the vaccines may reduce long haul symptoms, she said.
Gupta said there is still a lot experts are learning about the virus, its treatment and its implications down the road.
Researchers revise death toll forecast
About 602,723 Americans will have died from COVID-19 by August 1, according to the latest projection from an influential coronavirus model released by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
That figure is down from last week’s report, when the researchers estimated there would be at least 618,000 cumulative deaths on August 1.
The new figure accounts for scaled up vaccine distribution over the next 90 days and the continued spread of the B.1.1.7 virus variant in the US.
As of Friday night, more than 571,000 people in the United States had died from COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The team also released projections for a worst-case scenario, in which 634,016 Americans could die of coronavirus by August 1.
“In our worse scenario, faster declines in mask use and faster increases in mobility lead to daily deaths increasing to nearly 750 a day and staying nearly constant through to August 1,” the team said.
The researchers noted that the expansion of COVID-19 vaccination in the US and declining seasonality have been enough to stop deaths from increasing amid the spread of the B.1.1.7 variant but warned of vaccine hesitancy.
“Given how central vaccination is to the US strategy to control the B.1.1.7 potential surge, the slow erosion of vaccine confidence unfolding over the last two or more months is cause for concern,” the team stated.