Hospitalization rates for infants with Covid-19 increased with the onset of Omicron, but severity did not, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week.
Because children under six months can’t get the Covid-19 vaccine, the CDC used the news to encourage women who are pregnant or attempting to get pregnant to get vaccinated, as there are indications it can protect their newborns.
“Compared with the Delta variant–predominant period, COVID-19–associated hospitalization rates increased among infants aged <6 months during Omicron variant–predominant periods, but the proportion of hospitalized infants aged <6 months with indicators of the most severe illness did not increase,” it said. “These findings underscore the continued risk for COVID-19–associated hospitalization among infants aged <6 months, who are ineligible for vaccination.”
CDC says mothers who complete the two-dose primary vaccine during pregnancy are estimated to provide 52 percent effectiveness against Covid-19 to their infants under six months.
“This suggests that young infants might receive protection through passive transplacental transfer of maternal antibodies acquired through maternal vaccination,” it notes, although the protection was less during the early Omicron period than it was with Delta. “Because of immune evasion when novel variants have emerged and waning immunity as time since the last dose increases, infants born during the Omicron BA.5 variant–predominant period might have had less protection.”
The CDC and others recommend the Covid-19 vaccine for women who are pregnant, nursing or may become pregnant, noting that Covid-19 hospitalization rates are higher for infants than any other age group other than adults 65 and older.
“To help protect both pregnant women and infants too young to be vaccinated, prevention should focus on ensuring that pregnant women stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccines (including receiving a bivalent booster dose) and implementing nonpharmaceutical interventions for COVID-19 prevention and newborn care,” it said.
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