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 on Thursday, also reveal that no pregnant women with both doses of the vaccine had been admitted to hospital.
Since May, just three of the women admitted had had their first vaccine. In contrast, 98 per cent of pregnant women admitted to hospital with Covid-19 had not been jabbed.
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 protect themselves and their baby by having the vaccine.
She 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.”
She added: “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.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists 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 Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) confirms the jab has been shown to be effective and safe for women carrying a baby.
Although the rise in pregnant women being admitted to hospital is broadly in line with the current rise in hospital admissions due to coronavirus, the new data, collated by the UK Obstetric Surveillance System, shows the number is increasing and many pregnant women needing care are experiencing acute symptoms.
A statement from NHS England said that, in the last three months, one in three pregnant women in hospital with Covid-19 in England required additional respiratory support, with more than a third developing pneumonia and around one in seven needing intensive care. The data also shows that one in five of those 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-19 symptoms were also admitted to neonatal units.
However, real-world data from the United States show 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 JCVI advised earlier this year that pregnant women should be offered the Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines.