19 August 2021

Number of pregnant women getting Covid jab rises by fifth

19 August 2021

The number of pregnant women getting a Covid-19 vaccination has risen by a fifth in recent weeks.

It follows a concerted effort by health officials to reassure expectant mothers about the safety of getting a jab.

A total of 62,311 women, who reported they were pregnant or could be pregnant at the time of receiving the vaccine, had come forward and received their first dose by the end of July, Public Health England (PHE) said.

The number is up by 10,587 from July 18, when data released for the first time suggested only around one in 10 pregnant women might have had a first dose.

PHE said that, of the latest total figure, 43,737 pregnant women had received their second dose.

Separate research last month revealed the vast majority of pregnant women admitted to hospital with Covid-19 are unvaccinated and there has been a drive to encourage more to get a jab, with England’s chief midwife writing to GPs and fellow midwives to spread the message.

Research by a team at St George’s, University of London, published this month, showed similar birth outcomes between those who have had a Covid-19 vaccine and those who have not.

Experts said pregnant women should feel reassured by the paper, which concluded there were no statistically significant differences in the data, with no increase in stillbirths or premature births, no abnormalities with development, and no evidence of babies being smaller or bigger.

A study is continuing to determine the best gap between coronavirus vaccine doses for pregnant women, but PHE said the current advice is for those who have already received their first dose to come forward for their second eight weeks later.

Researchers are aiming to recruit more than 600 pregnant women for the trial, which will monitor the vaccine’s effectiveness and follow the development of children up to one year old.

In the UK, pregnant women are offered the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines where available, as officials say there is more safety data on these jabs in pregnancy.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisations at PHE, said it is “encouraging” to see that thousands of women have had their jab, but warned that “many more may remain unvaccinated and we urge them to take up the offer”.

She added: “The Covid-19 vaccines are safe for both you and your unborn baby and they are the best way to protect against Covid-19-related complications in pregnancy, which can be serious, especially in your third trimester.”

Dr Pat O’Brien, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist and vice-president at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said the rise in the number of pregnant women being vaccinated is “very positive”.

He added: “We are seeing more unvaccinated pregnant women become seriously ill from Covid-19, and an increased number of women admitted to hospital and intensive care. The vaccine will help to protect both the mother and their baby from the potential effects of Covid-19.”

Gill Walton, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, encouraged mothers-to-be with questions to ask medical professionals.

She said: “Hundreds of thousands of pregnant women worldwide have been vaccinated, safely and effectively protecting themselves against Covid and dramatically reducing their risk of serious illness or harm to their baby.

“If you have questions, please talk to your midwife, obstetrician or GP. Get the answers you need and get the jab.”

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