By Brooke Katz

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a new health alert urging pregnant and nursing women to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

According to the CDC, as of September 27 more than 125,000 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases have been reported in pregnant patients, including more than 22,000 hospitalized cases and 161 deaths.

In August alone 22 pregnant patients died from COVID-19.

That’s the highest number since the pandemic began.

According to the health alert, the data from the COVID-19-Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network (COVID-NET) in 2021 indicate that approximately 97% of pregnant people hospitalized (either for illness or for labor and delivery) with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection were unvaccinated.

As of September 18, about 31% of pregnant people were fully vaccinated before or during their pregnancy.

“This is the way we protect ourselves,” said Dr. Joseph Chang, the Chief Medical Officer at Parkland Health and Hospital System. “This is the way we protect our babies.”

Dr. Chang is also an OB/GYN.

He explained that pregnancy can slightly weaken the immune system, making patients more vulnerable to severe illness.

He said the benefits of being vaccinated far outweigh the risks.

“We’ve actually seen the data get better, not worse, in terms of safety profile and effectiveness,” Dr. Chang said.

Dr. Chang recommended women speak with their healthcare provider if they have questions about the vaccine.