Denver Health researchers find increasing COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among pregnant people, emphasize public health concern

April 08, 2024

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A recent study published in JAMA Network Open and led by Josh Williams, MD, pediatrician at the Wellington Webb Pediatric Clinic at Denver Health, found that “significant changes in perceptions of COVID-19 vaccine safety” were observed in a diverse sampling of insured pregnant and recently pregnant people in the latter portion of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In Denver Health’s role as a safety net learning health system, we find this data very concerning,” Williams said.

Data from members of the Vaccine Safety Datalink, a collaborative project with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that monitors the safety of vaccines and conducts studies that include diverse patient populations, revealed that only 16.2% of pregnant people aged 18 to 49 had received a COVID-19 booster vaccine, with only 8.3% of Black pregnant people and 9.6% of Latino pregnant people vaccinated during pregnancy.

This data led Williams and fellow VSD researchers to conduct two waves of samplings on attitudes toward the COVID-19 vaccine that totaled nearly 3,000 pregnant people. Despite building evidence supporting COVID-19 vaccine safety for pregnant people, the study’s findings indicated a significant decrease in the positive perceptions of COVID-19 safety for pregnant persons and their infants.

The study concluded that the increase in COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and negative perceptions of COVID-19 vaccine safety are “concerning for clinicians and public health officials.”

“It shows us that our work with patients continues to be rooted in hearing their concerns about the safety of vaccines while sharing the rigorous research that demonstrates their safety,” Williams said about the study. “We are listening, sharing and even storytelling to help patients trust the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.