PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Health officials are sending an urgent plea to pregnant women and those planning to have children: get vaccinated.

Doctors said they are seeing an increase in COVID-related deaths in unvaccinated pregnant women, exacerbated by the delta variant. They also warned that pregnant women are considered high-risk for severe illness from the virus.

Two-thirds of women who are expecting a baby are not fully vaccinated, health officials said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also cautioned pregnant women, issuing an urgent health advisory as cases of pregnant women in critical care at hospitals are climbing.

Last month, almost 2 dozen pregnant women died from COVID-19.

Pregnant women have been hospitalized, using breathing tubes, and they are fighting for their lives and their babies in local hospitals.

“We’ve seen them come in with symptoms worsen over time, respiratory distress and failure, and have to go into the ICU,” said Dr. Emily West, an OB-GYN with Kaiser Permanente. “They are our sickest moms.”

Doctors like West are urging their pregnant patients to get vaccinated against COVID-19, claiming the data from studies of thousands of vaccinated pregnant women shows the vaccines are safe and effective — with no increase in serious side effects.

West said hospitals are also occasionally having women deliver babies pre-term because of COVID-19. If they have any questions at all, women should see their doctors, she said.