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FHK launches campaign to educate women on risk of COVID-19 and pregnancy, promote vaccination

The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky (FHKY) – with major support from the Kentucky Association of Health Plans (KAHP) – is launching a statewide campaign to educate women on the health risks of contracting COVID-19 while pregnant and the benefits of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

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“We know the pandemic adds extra layers of concern for expecting mothers,” said Ben Chandler, president and chief executive officer, FHKY. “We are proud to partner with KAHP to encourage women to ask questions and learn more from reliable sources about COVID-19 vaccines. In the end, we hope to improve the health outcomes of Kentucky moms and their newborns.”

The public service campaign, launched Monday, asks ‘what’s right for you?’ and encourages women to talk with their OB/GYN about their individual situation. FHKY and KAHP held focus groups and individual interviews with pregnant Kentucky women and learned expecting mothers want more information about the potential impact of the virus and how the vaccine works. And, they want to have a discussion with their doctor about what it all means for them, personally.

“COVID poses unique risks for both mother and child during pregnancy,” said Katherine Kington North, director of external affairs for KAHP. “We can improve outcomes when we encourage conversations between moms and their healthcare providers. It is critical to have a trusted, real dialogue, not a one-way conversation.”

While studies show unvaccinated pregnant women do not seem to be at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, research shows they are 40 percent more likely to develop serious complications if they get COVID-19 while pregnant. Unvaccinated pregnant women are also at higher risk for pre-term labor, stillbirths, or death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says more than 200,000 pregnant women in the U.S. have received the COVID-19 vaccine without any safety or health concerns. The CDC also reports that, currently, less than one-third (31%) of expectant mothers in the United States are vaccinated.

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Research shows:

• Unvaccinated pregnant women are 15-times more likely to die from COVID-19.

• Unvaccinated pregnant women are 22-times more likely to have a pre-term birth than those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

• The risk of still birth among pregnant women with COVID-19 is twice as high compared to uninfected patients.

• Receiving the mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine does not affect fertility and does not increase risk of miscarriage or still birth.

• Vaccinated and breastfeeding mothers can pass on COVID-19 antibodies, giving their babies passive immunity against the virus for their first six months of life.

“This is not about scaring people, rather having an honest conversation about what COVID-19 can mean for pregnant women and their babies,” Chandler said. “We hope to spur conversations between patients and their health care providers.”

The campaign includes video testimonials from Kentucky OB/GYNs and new moms who received the COVID-19 vaccine while they were pregnant. All content has a common message: pregnant women and women thinking about becoming pregnant should discuss the COVID-19 vaccine with their health care team to decide what is best for them.

Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky

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