Pregnant women are being urged by officials to take up the Covid jab, as latest vaccination figures revealed huge gaps between expectant mothers in poor and wealthy areas.
Just seven per cent of pregnant women in the poorest areas have had their jab compared to 27 per cent in the wealthiest, according to data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
Black and minority ethnic mothers also have lower vaccination rates, with five per cent of black pregnant women vaccinated so far compared to 13 per cent of Asian women and 17 per cent of white women.
The warnings over vaccination uptake comes as new data from the UKHSA, published Thursday, showed pregnant women who have had the vaccine are not at any higher risk of still birth or giving birth to smaller babies, compared to unvaccinated mothers.
However, unvaccinated pregnant women do run a higher risk of becoming seriously ill from Covid, as data showed of those admitted to hospital with the disease, 98 per cent were unvaccinated. UKSHA’s said there have been no fully-vaccinated pregnant women in critical care with Covid-19.
On Monday The Independent revealed hundreds of babies have been born prematurely and in need of critical care after their mothers were hospitalised with Covid-19. Around one in five mothers who have been admitted have had a premature birth.
Professor Lucy Chappell, chief scientific adviser and honorary consultant obstetrician, said: “This pandemic has created a lot of fear and uncertainty for those who are thinking about pregnancy or expecting a baby, with COVID-19 being very dangerous for pregnant women in particular.
“It is therefore really important that they get their Covid-19 vaccine - which has now protected hundreds of thousands of pregnant women around the world.”
Dr Edward Morris, from the Royal College of Obsetricians and Gynaecologists said stronger efforts needed to be made to vaccinate pregnant women of black ethnicity and those living in the poorest areas, who are already at the highest risk of poor birth outcomes.
Dr Nikki Kanani, deputy lead for the NHS vaccination programme said it was clear from the data pregnant women are more likely to become very unwell if they catch Covid-19.
She said the new research was “encouraging” and showed there were no significant concerns over the safety of the vaccine in pregnant women.
Dr Mary Ross-Davie, director for professional midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “Having Covid-19 during pregnancy carries a far higher risk than having the vaccine, particularly in the later stages where it can have serious consequences for both mother and baby. It can double the chance of stillbirth and triples the chance of a preterm birth, which can have long term health impact for the baby.”