Almost all pregnant women who were hospitalised or admitted to intensive care with Covid-19 were unvaccinated
Pregnant women who have not yet had their first, second, third or booster dose of a Covid-19 vaccine are being urged to get their jab as soon as possible, as the government launches a new advertising campaign for the New Year.
The new campaign joins forces with the experts at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) to highlight the serious risks of catching Covid-19 and the benefits the vaccines bring to protecting both mothers and their babies.
Testimonies of pregnant women who have had the jab to keep themselves safe will be played out in adverts across social media and radio stations across the country.
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.
DHSC Chief Scientific Adviser and Honorary Consultant Obstetrician Professor Lucy Chappell said: “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.
“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.”
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.
The Covid-19 vaccines are safe for pregnant women and have no impact on fertility, which has been made extremely clear by the government, its senior clinicians and a range of independent experts from stakeholder groups such as RCOG the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and the British Fertility Society.
Since April 2021, around 84,000 pregnant women have received one dose and over 80,000 have received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. In August 2021, only 22% of women who gave birth were vaccinated.
Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “We welcome this national campaign as an important way of amplifying the very clear message to pregnant women that vaccination provides the best protection for both them and their babies from Covid-19. We urge all pregnant women to get vaccinated as soon as possible, and to get boosted 3 months after the second dose.
“We are very concerned that many pregnant women have not yet been vaccinated against Covid-19 and we hope this campaign will help reassure them that vaccination is safe and effective. Pregnant women are more vulnerable of becoming seriously ill from Covid-19 infection, and this can lead to an increased risk of giving birth prematurely, and stillbirth.”
Gill Walton, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), said: “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.
“The consequences of Covid when you are pregnant are clear and potentially devastated, from increased possibility of premature birth and admission to intensive care to a heightened risk of stillbirth.
“We know that pregnant women want to do everything they can to protect their baby, which is why midwives want to reassure them that vaccination is the best thing they can do.”
Geetanjali Singh, an optician, who has recently given birth to her second baby and has been fully vaccinated said: “I gave birth to a healthy baby boy just before Christmas. I am so grateful that the guidance on pregnancy and the Covid-19 vaccine changed last year.
“Plus my husband contracted Covid whilst I was pregnant, so being vaccinated gave me peace of mind that I and my baby had some protection. My advice to any pregnant people unsure about having the vaccine is speak to your midwife or health professional and make an informed choice.”