SANTA BARBARA—Expectant mothers and their newborns are at greater risk of health complications if the mother contracts COVID during pregnancy, and an infectious disease specialist at Cottage Health wants to be sure new parents and parents-to-be have the information they need to protect their family.

With the highly contagious Delta variant circulating, Cottage Health is urging women who are or may become pregnant to take precautions and get the COVID vaccine.

“As more data becomes available, we’ve seen that the vaccine is safe during pregnancy and helps to protect both mother and baby from complications of COVID,” said Dr. David Fisk, Medical Director of Infection Control at Cottage Health and an infectious disease specialist at Sansum Clinic.

“The risk for complications during pregnancy and childbirth increases dramatically when COVID is involved,” Dr. Fisk added.

Data from thousands of women enrolled in research studies shows that those who got COVID were 15 times more likely to die from the disease compared to women who were not pregnant, and they were 22 times more likely to deliver prematurely. (

In addition to protecting the mother, the vaccine may offer an additional layer of protection for her newborn. “Recent studies show that the breast milk of lactating mothers vaccinated against COVID-19 contain antibodies that may help protect nursing infants from the COVID-19 illness,” said Dr. Steven Barkley, Chief Pediatric Medical Officer at Cottage Children’s Medical Center.

“COVID vaccination is strongly encouraged for pregnant and lactating individuals,” Dr. Fisk said, “and it’s recommended by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society.”

To find locations that offer COVID vaccinations, visit

About Cottage Health The not-for-profit Cottage Health is the leader in providing advanced medical care to the Central Coast region.  Specialties include the Cottage Children’s Medical Center, Level 1 Trauma Center, Neuroscience Institute, Heart & Vascular Center, Center for Orthopedics, and Rehabilitation Hospital. The Cottage Health medical staff is comprised of more than 700 physicians, many with subspecialties typically found only at university medical centers. Last year, the Cottage Health hospitals in Goleta, Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez Valley provided inpatient care for 21,000 people, treated 80,000 patients through their 24-hour emergency departments and helped deliver 2,100 newborns. Cottage Health also offers Cottage Urgent Care Centers throughout the tri-counties, as well as 24-hour access to providers via Cottage Virtual Care, an online service for common conditions.


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