In an official health advisory Wednesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly and urgently encouraged pregnant people to get the COVID-19 vaccine, noting they are at higher risk than others for adverse outcomes if they get COVID, according to a press release from North Central Public Health District (NCPHD).

The benefits of the vaccine outweigh known or potential risks, the CDC said. A growing amount of data shows both the safety and efficacy of vaccinating pregnant people. The highest number of monthly deaths of pregnant people since the pandemic began occurred in August 2021 (22 deaths), spurring the CDC’s call for urgent action to increase vaccinations.

A widespread piece of misinformation states that the vaccines cause infertility. There is no evidence that any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men. COVID is still circulating widely in Wasco County, with daily cases remaining in the double digits, according to NCPHD.

The CDC said, “Healthcare providers should strongly recommend the vaccine for people who are pregnant, are trying to become pregnant, might become pregnant in the future, or were recently pregnant (including those who are lactating).”

Just 31% of pregnant people are vaccinated before or during pregnancy, and 97% of pregnant people hospitalized with COVID in 2021 were unvaccinated.

While the absolute risk is low, pregnant people were twice as likely to require ICU admission and ventilation than non-pregnant people, and have a 70% increased risk of death.

There are also increased risks for stillbirth, premature birth, preeclampsia, and admissions of newborns to the neonatal ICU in pregnant people with COVID. The CDC’s health advisory can be found at emergency.cdc.gov.

The vaccines are free to everyone, and are available on a walk-in basis at every local pharmacy in The Dalles. They are also offered at Murray’s Drug in Condon on an appointment basis and are available by appointment at your local doctor’s office.

One Community Health offers them to anyone in the community on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., walk-ins welcome, but scheduling is preferred by calling 541-296-4610. They are available Thursdays from 3-6 p.m. at the Fort Dalles Readiness Center, through NCPHD, by booking online at www.ncphd.org/covid-vaccines or by calling 541-506-2600.

Wasco County residents get a $50 VISA card for the first dose, while supplies last.

For more information, visit COVID-19 Vaccine in Oregon, contact North Central Public Health District at 541-506-2600 or visit online at www.ncphd.org or its Facebook page.