Lifestyle Health CDC Issues 'Urgent' Advisory Telling Pregnant Women to Get Vaccinated Against COVID More than 22,000 pregnant women have been hospitalized with COVID-19 and at least 161 have died from the virus By Julie Mazziotta Julie Mazziotta Twitter Associate Editor, PEOPLE Health People Editorial Guidelines Published on September 29, 2021 05:16 PM Share Tweet Pin Email A pregnant woman receiving vaccination. Photo: Getty Images The Centers for Disease Control is urgently warning pregnant women to get vaccinated against COVID-19 due to the significant risks of hospitalization or death from the virus. In a health advisory, the agency "strongly recommends" people who are currently pregnant or hoping to conceive get a COVID-19 vaccine to "prevent serious illness, deaths and adverse pregnancy outcomes." Pregnancy significantly increases the likelihood of hospitalization or death if a person contracts COVID-19, yet "only 31% of pregnant people have been vaccinated," the CDC said. As a result, more than 22,000 pregnant women have been hospitalized with COVID-19 and at least 161 have died from the virus — 22 of which occurred just recently in August. Unvaccinated Pregnant Nurse and Her Unborn Baby Die of COVID: 'It's Hard to Accept' "Cases of COVID-19 in symptomatic, pregnant people have a two-fold risk of admission into intensive care and a 70% increased risk of death," the CDC said. Contracting COVID-19 while pregnant also has negative effects on the fetus, and can lead to "adverse pregnancy outcomes" such as premature births, stillbirth and the birth of a baby infected with COVID-19. "Pregnancy can be both a special time and also a stressful time -- and pregnancy during a pandemic is an added concern for families. I strongly encourage those who are pregnant or considering pregnancy to talk with their healthcare provider about the protective benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine to keep their babies and themselves safe," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. RELATED VIDEO: Unvaccinated TikToker Who Died of COVID Spent Last Days Urging Followers to Get the Vaccine Studies and real-world experience have shown that the vaccines are entirely safe for pregnant people, and that the risk of COVID-19 outweighs any potential issues. "We are fortunate now to have extraordinary safety data with all of these vaccines. We know that pregnant women are at increased risk of severe disease, of hospitalization and ventilation," Walensky said at a White House COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday. Unvaccinated Mom, 32, Dies of COVID Days After Giving Birth: 'She Wished She Had Gotten the Vaccine' "They're also at increased risk for adverse events to their baby. We now have data that demonstrates that vaccines — in whatever time in pregnancy or lactating that they're given — are actually safe and effective and have no adverse events to mom or to baby." Walensky added that they've seen that "in fact, some antibody from the vaccine traverses to the baby and in fact could potentially protect the baby." As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.