England’s top midwife 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 new figures, released today, 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.
Now Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, Chief Midwifery Officer for England, has written to fellow midwives and GP practices across the country stressing the need to encourage pregnant women to get the jab to protect them and their baby.
Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, Chief Midwifery Officer for England, said: “Vaccines save lives, and this is another stark reminder that the Covid-19 jab can keep you, your baby and your loved ones, safe and out of hospital.
“Thanks to the planning, skill and dedication of hard-working staff the NHS Covid vaccination programme is the biggest in health service history and the most precise in Europe. But we need everyone to come forward and take up the evergreen offer of a jab which is why I am calling on pregnant women to take action to protect themselves and their babies and on my fellow midwives to ensure they have the information they need to do so.”
Since April, pregnant women have been offered the jab in line with their age cohort, and health leaders are calling on more younger adults to come forward and close the uptake gap.
Janet Cotton, Divisional Midwifery and Nursing Director said
“Sadly within the maternity service we are seeing an increasing number of unvaccinated Covid 19 positive pregnant women being admitted experiencing severe Covid symptoms and needing respiratory support.
We therefore need all women to consider the Covid vaccination in order to protect themselves and their new-born baby at this time.
If any pregnant woman has any concerns they should speak to their midwife or read the published guidance for further information”.
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.
Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “Getting the vaccine is the best way to protect you and your baby against Covid-19. It really is that simple. 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.”
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.
- Between 16 May and 11 July, 171 (98%) pregnant women were admitted to hospital with COVID symptoms. None had been fully vaccinated and three (2%) had received a single dose of vaccine.
- Vaccination remains the best way to protect against the known risks of COVID-19 in pregnancy for both mother and baby, including admission to intensive care and premature birth.
- JCVI guidance on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines when given in pregnancy is here: The safety of COVID-19 vaccines when given in pregnancy - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Pregnant women will be offered the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine in line with JVCI guidance if booked through the National Booking System.
- Nearly 200,000 pregnant women in the UK and US have received a COVID-19 vaccine with no safety concerns raised:
- 130,000 pregnant women have received a COVID-19 vaccine it the
- 51,000 pregnant women have received a COVID-19 vaccine in England
- 4,000 pregnant women have received a COVID-19 vaccine in Scotland
- We know that COVID-19 can cause severe illness in pregnant women and can be dangerous for the baby:
More than half of women who test positive for COVID-19 in pregnancy have no symptoms but some pregnant women can get life-threatening illness from COVID-19, particularly if they have underlying health conditions.
In the later stages of pregnancy, women are at increased risk of becoming seriously unwell with COVID-19.
- 1 in 10 pregnant women admitted to hospital with symptoms of COVID-19 need intensive care.
- 1 in 5 women admitted to hospital with serious COVID symptoms went on to give birth prematurely, and the likelihood of delivery by caesarean section doubled.
- 1 in 5 babies born to mothers with COVID symptoms were also admitted to neonatal units
- Almost 70 million vaccinations have been delivered by the NHS in England since making history when Margaret Keenan received the first jab outside of a clinical trial in Coventry, in December 2020.
- The NHS COVID-19 Vaccination programme, the biggest in health service history, fastest in Europe and most precise in the world, has already delivered almost 70 million jabs protecting including nearly 39 million people with a first dose and more than 29 million who are fully vaccinated after receiving both doses.
- Everyone aged 18 or over is now eligible for a lifesaving Covid-19 jab and the NHS is urging people to come forward as soon as possible booking via nhs.uk or visiting their nearest walk-in centre.
- Second doses are available to people who had their first dose eight weeks ago, in line with JCVI guidance with more than two thirds of the adult population already double jabbed.
- From high street shops to mosques and sports grounds, our incredible staff together with our wonderful volunteers are doing all they can to make sure it is easier than ever for people, particularly young adults to get protected.
- Getting your COVID-19 vaccine as well as that vital second dose is the best thing you can do to protect you, your loved ones and your community against coronavirus.