Expectant mums urged to protect themselves and their baby from COVID-19

Published: Thursday, August 12, 2021

The local NHS is encouraging more pregnant women to get their COVID-19 vaccine, as new national data shows nearly 52,000 pregnant women in England have received at least one dose.

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The COVID-19 vaccines are one of the best defences against infection, preventing at least 11.7 million infections in England alone.

Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine are recommended for women in the UK, as they have been used widely in other countries to protect pregnant women and safety issues have not been seen.

St George’s University Hospital Consultant midwife Chelone Lee-Wo, and Maternity Transformation co-chair said: “Recent research data shows that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe for pregnant women, and most importantly, it saves lives. I would encourage anyone who is unsure about getting vaccinated to speak to their midwife, or visit a vaccination centre to find out more – NHS staff are happy to listen to any concerns you might have and give you all the information you need about the vaccine.”

She added “The 3rd trimester is a particularly challenging period for the pregnant woman’s immune system, and we have seen a worrying rise in the numbers of unvaccinated pregnant women across London in Intensive Care Units. Recovery, even from a mild COVID-19 infection, can also affect the early parenting experience and have longer-term consequences.

“If you’re worried about the vaccine, please join our weekly Q&A video calls to talk about any concerns you have. Book your place now at maternity.experience@stgeorges.nhs.uk – partners/support people welcome.”

New mums, women who are planning pregnancy or who are breastfeeding can be vaccinated with any vaccine.

Though uncommon, severe illness due to COVID-19 is more likely in later pregnancy. Pregnant women who do get symptomatic COVID-19 infection are two to three times more likely to give birth to their baby prematurely.

The data, from Public Health England (PHE), shows these were all women aged under 50 years of age, who reported that they were pregnant or could be pregnant at the time of receiving the vaccine. Of these, 20,648 women have received their second dose.

On 16 April 2021, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised that pregnant women should be offered the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine at the same time as the rest of the population, based on their age and clinical risk group.

Some pregnant women will have been vaccinated before this date if they are clinically vulnerable or are a healthcare worker, therefore these figures are likely to be much higher.

Find out where to get vaccinated.