Community-Based Organizations Offer Support to Families During Pregnancy and Postpartum

Pregnancy and childbirth can be times of great joy, but they can also bring worries about potential health risks–especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Evidence continues to show that receiving a COVID-19 vaccination during and after pregnancy is safe and effective at preventing serious illness, and health professionals have recommended vaccination for pregnant and postpartum women to protect them and their babies. However, many expecting and new mothers remain hesitant.

To increase confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC Foundation has partnered with ten maternal and child health community-based organizations (CBOs) across the southern United States. With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, this project seeks to reduce the number of cases and the severity of COVID-19 infections among pregnant and postpartum women by distributing accurate information about the safety and importance of vaccination and increasing access to COVID-19 vaccines.

“It is critical that pregnant and post-partum people receive the COVID-19 vaccine to provide the best protection for themselves and their newborns,” said Lisa Waddell, MD, MPH, chief medical officer for the CDC Foundation. “Community-based organizations are trusted voices to share essential prevention information and answer questions along with healthcare providers on the importance of receiving the COVID-19 vaccination.”

The funded CBOs have developed local, community-specific strategies to increase vaccine uptake among pregnant women and new mothers. The Gift of Life Foundation in Montgomery, Alabama, for example, has partnered with local physicians and the State Health Department to provide greater access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines and even provides transportation to and from vaccination sites. Texas-based CBO Dia de la Mujer Latina is recruiting and training community health workers to better promote vaccine confidence and debunk misinformation that has fueled vaccine hesitancy in some local communities.

Other project activities CBOs have engaged in include social media campaigns, health fairs, focus groups and Q&A sessions with local practitioners and community members. Through our ongoing partnerships, CBOs will continue to ensure that hesitant pregnant and postpartum community members and their families have the resources and access they need to make an informed choice about vaccination.

“We are so fortunate to have an effective vaccine that provides protection during and after pregnancy,” said Lauren Smith, MD, MPH, chief equity and strategy officer for the CDC Foundation. “Community-based organizations are important partners in ensuring that women in communities that are often marginalized can take advantage of this potentially life-saving step.”

The CDC Foundation is proud to support this program and these vital organizations as they promote the health and safety of future generations.

Brittany Oladipupo
Brittany Oladipupo, MPH, is an emergency response specialist for the CDC Foundation.