Health chiefs are encouraging more pregnant women to get their COVID-19 vaccine, as new data shows that 51,724 pregnant women in England have received at least one dose.
The data, from Public Health England, shows these were all women aged under 50 years of age, who reported that they were pregnant or could be pregnant at the time of receiving the vaccine. Of these, 20,648 women have received their second dose. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation advised that pregnant women should be offered the coronavirus vaccine at the same time as the rest of the population, based on their age and clinical risk group.
‘It is encouraging that thousands of pregnant women have received a COVID-19 vaccine – we strongly urge anyone who has not yet taken up the offer to get both doses as soon as possible and for pregnant women to come forward for their second dose 8 weeks after their first dose,’ said Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at PHE.
‘The vaccines continue to save thousands of lives and we are confident that they can be safely offered to pregnant women, but if you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to discuss these with a healthcare professional.’
Though uncommon, severe illness due to COVID-19 is more likely in later pregnancy. Pregnant women who do get symptomatic COVID-19 infection are 2 to 3 times more likely to give birth to their baby prematurely. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are recommended for pregnant women in the UK because these vaccines have been given to over 130,000 pregnant women in the US and the data has not raised any safety concerns.
‘It’s really encouraging that so many pregnant women have already come forward to the vaccine – particularly bearing in mind this figure doesn’t include the pregnant health and care workers or those who are clinically extremely vulnerable who would have received at least their first vaccine before 16 April. We’re all very aware of just how widely the virus is still circulating,’ said Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives.
‘That’s why it’s so important for pregnant women to take up the vaccine. We are seeing increasing numbers of pregnant women being admitted to hospital with serious illness, almost all of whom are unvaccinated. Pregnant women are at greater risk of serious illness if they get COVID-19, and those with severe COVID-19 are twice as likely to experience a stillbirth and 3 times as likely to have a preterm baby. Getting the vaccine is the best way to keep you and your baby safe.’