Lancashire’s lead obstetrician is urging expectant mums to get the COVID-19 vaccine after new data shows the overwhelming majority of pregnant women hospitalised with the virus have not had a jab.
The latest national figures also reveal that no pregnant women with both doses of the vaccine had been admitted to hospital.
Since May, just three women had been admitted after having their first vaccine. In contrast, almost all (98%) pregnant women admitted to hospital with COVID-19 had not been jabbed.
Rineke Schram, FRCOG, Lead Obstetrician at Lancashire and South Cumbria Maternity and Newborn Alliance and Deputy Clinical Lead Maternity North West Coast Clinical Network, said: “Every day we are seeing very sick pregnant women with COVID-19 in hospital and the vast majority are unvaccinated. If you have COVID-19 in pregnancy, you are twice as likely to have a stillbirth, and it is twice as likely that your baby will be born prematurely, which can affect their long-term health. I want to reassure pregnant women that COVID-19 vaccines are the safest and best way to protect you and your baby from severe illness and premature birth.
“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.
“It’s so important for pregnant women to get their jab, particularly with the virus being so prevalent and the Delta variant proving itself to be so much more transmissible. If you have questions, talk to your midwife, talk to your obstetrician, talk to your GP. Get the answers you need and get the jab.”
A useful decision-making tool has been published by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and is available at www.healthierlsc.co.uk/covidpregnancy
Since April, pregnant women have been offered the jab in line with their age cohort, and health leaders are calling on more young adults to come forward and close the uptake gap.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Royal College of Midwives have both recommended vaccination as one of the best defences for pregnant women against severe COVID-19 infection, while the independent JCVI confirms the jab has been shown to be effective and safe for women carrying a baby.
Whilst broadly in line with the current rise in hospital admissions due to coronavirus, the new data, collated by the UK Obstetric Surveillance System (UKOSS), shows the number of pregnant women being admitted to hospital with COVID-19 is increasing and many needing care are experiencing acute symptoms.
In the last three months alone, one in three pregnant women in hospital with COVID-19 in England required additional respiratory support (33%), with more than a third developing pneumonia (37%), and around one in seven needing intensive care (15%).
The data also shows that one in five women admitted to hospital with serious COVID symptoms went on to give birth prematurely, and the likelihood of delivery by caesarean section doubled. One in five babies born to mothers with COVID symptoms were also admitted to neonatal units.
Real-world data from the United States shows that more than 130,000 pregnant women have been vaccinated without any safety concerns being raised, and more than 55,000 pregnant women in the UK have also received at least one dose of the vaccine. Based on this data, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised earlier this year that pregnant women should be offered the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
Any pregnant women who have questions or concerns about the vaccine can speak to their GP, midwife, or obstetrician to get more information and advice. Even if they have previously declined the vaccine, they can book an appointment to get their jab on the NHS National Booking Service website or call 119 between 7am and 11pm.