Recent Public Health England (PHE) Data has revealed just one in ten pregnant Brits have received their coronavirus vaccines, despite the jabs being on offer since April. Health chiefs are now warning residents on pregnancy complications that can arise from a COVID infection.
One in ten pregnant women have received their COVID jabs
Statistics show that 51,724 pregnant women in the UK have received their first dose, with 20,648 being fully inoculated. However, there are 600,000 women currently pregnant in the UK, meaning just 10% of pregnant Brits have opted for their jabs.
Health chiefs are now voicing their concerns on the low vaccine uptake among pregnant residents as last week, as many as 95% of the pregnant women in hospital for COVID were unvaccinated.
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi congratulated mothers-to-be who have come forward for their shots, reiteratingthe dangers of COVID infections for pregnant women: ’It is brilliant to see so many pregnant women coming forward for their COVID-19 vaccines, ensuring they protect themselves and their baby from this awful virus.’
While uncommon, severe illness from COVID-19 is more likely in later pregnancy, and infection increases the risk of a premature birth. The COVID-19 vaccines are one of the best defences against infection, preventing at least 11.7 million infections in England alone.
Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives, also commented on the situation describing just how seriously a coronavirus infection could impact a pregnancy: ‘We are seeing increasing numbers of pregnant women being admitted to hospital with serious illness, almost all of whom are unvaccinated.’
Pregnant women are at greater risk of serious illness if they get COVID, and those with severe COVID are twice as likely to experience a stillbirth and three times as likely to have a preterm baby. Getting the vaccine is the best way to keep you and your baby safe.
He continued: ‘So often, we mark out pregnancy landmarks in weeks, what size the baby is at 12 weeks or 22. Now we have a new landmark - eight weeks between the first jab and the second. If you have any concerns or any questions, speak to your midwife, who will help you make the right decision for you and your baby.’
What are the risks of COVID infection in pregnancy?
According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), pregnant women are no more likely to contract coronavirus than any other person. However, they are at higher risk of severe infection and coronavirus complications if they do test positive for the virus - particularly if they are in their third trimester or have pre-existing medical conditions.
Pregnancy complications that can arise from a COVID-19 infection include stillbirth, premature birth, pre-eclampsia and the need for a cesarean. Previous studies show that babies born to COVID-19 infected mothers also showed a higher risk of admittance to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Luckily, almost all of the babies who were admitted to the NICU recovered well.
Current advice from RCOG is for pregnant women to get fully vaccinated against COVID to ensure the best possible protection from the virus and its complications. Pregnant women are recommended to ask for Pfizer or Moderna vaccines as these jabs have already been administered to over 130,000 pregnant women in the US without data showing any safety concerns.