Pregnant women are being urged to get vaccinated and boosted in a new drive, after it was found that almost all pregnant women who were hospitalised or admitted to intensive care with COVID-19 were unvaccinated.
The new campaign urges pregnant women ‘don’t wait to take the vaccine’ and highlights the risks of COVID-19 to mother and baby, and the benefits of vaccination.
The latest data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows COVID-19 vaccinations provide strong protection for pregnant women against the virus. It also shows the vaccines are safe for pregnant women, with similar birth outcomes for those who had the vaccine and those who had not.
‘Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is one of the most important things a pregnant woman can do this year to keep herself and her baby as safe from this virus as possible,’ said DHSC Chief Scientific Adviser and Honorary Consultant Obstetrician Professor Lucy Chappell.
‘We have extensive evidence now to show that the vaccines are safe and that the risks posed by COVID-19 are far greater. If you haven’t had your COVID-19 vaccine, I would urge you to speak to your clinician or midwife if you have any questions or concerns, and book in your vaccine as soon as you can.’
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Data from the UK Obstetric Surveillance System shows 96.3% of pregnant women admitted to hospital with COVID-19 symptoms between May and October 2021 were unvaccinated, a third of which (33%) requiring respiratory support. Around 1 in 5 women who are hospitalised with the virus need to be delivered preterm to help them recover and 1 in 5 of their babies need care in the neonatal unit.
Since April 2021, around 84,000 pregnant women have received one dose and over 80,000 have received 2 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. In August 2021, only 22% of women who gave birth were vaccinated.
‘There is overwhelming evidence that the COVID vaccine is safe for pregnant women and for their babies – and that it’s the best way to keep them safe from harm. Sadly, there are too many pregnant women being admitted to hospital with COVID, and 96.3% of them haven’t been vaccinated,’ said Gill Walton, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCM.
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‘The consequences of COVID when you are pregnant are clear and potentially devastating, from increased possibility of premature birth and admission to intensive care to a heightened risk of stillbirth.’