By Brandon Moseley

Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL07) announced that her bill, the Maternal Vaccination Act, passed the House of Representatives by unanimous consent on Tuesday. The bill, which Sewell introduced in February, provides funding to increase maternal vaccination rates and reduce vaccination disparities.

The Maternal Vaccination Act was included in the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021.

“Today, the House took an important step in our fight to address the nation’s urgent maternal health crisis by passing my Maternal Vaccination Act!” said Sewell. “We know that the U.S. suffers from the highest pregnancy-related death rate in the developed world, with Black women facing disproportionately high maternal mortality rates.”

Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (D-Illinois) is the Founder and Co-Chair of the Black Maternal Health Caucus.

“Low vaccination rates put both mothers and babies at risk, so we must work to increase maternal vaccinations during this public health emergency and beyond,” Underwood said.

The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 will build on existing maternal health legislation, like policies to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage, with 12 bills to comprehensively address every dimension of America’s maternal health crisis.

The United States has the highest pregnancy-related death rate in the developed world. The maternal mortality rate is significantly higher among Black women, who are three to four times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related complications. Others, including Hispanic, Native American, Asian American and Pacific Islander women, also suffer from disproportionate rates of adverse maternal health outcomes.

Sewell’s office said that the Maternal Vaccination Act will provide funding for a public and provider awareness campaign to promote maternal and child vaccinations, including initiatives to:

  • Increase awareness about the safety, importance, and effectiveness of vaccines for pregnant and postpartum women and their children

  • Provide targeted, evidence-based, culturally and linguistically appropriate resources about vaccines to pregnant and postpartum women, particularly in communities with historically low vaccination rates; and

  • Provide evidence-based information and resources on the safety and importance of maternal and child vaccinations to public health departments, maternal health care providers, and perinatal health workers.

Terri Sewell is a member of the Black Maternal Health Caucus. She is in her sixth term representing Alabama’s Seventh Congressional District.

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