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Pregnant women now a pandemic priority

Monday October 11th 2021

A new drive was being launched today to encourage vaccination of pregnant women amid concerns they are now among the most vulnerable groups to COVID-19.

As many as 20% of those patients critically ill with the virus have been unvaccinated pregnant women, NHS England said. The group has low vaccination rates and high exposure to virus transmission through schools.

Among women aged 16 to 49 receiving extra corporeal membrane oxygenation, the proportion who are pregnant has risen to a third. At the start of the pandemic, this proportion stood at 6%.

Experts say many pregnant women have been hesitant about having the vaccine for fear of unexpected consequences – but it has proved “safe and effective.”

So far 65,000 pregnant women have received two doses of vaccination. There are about 600,000 live births a year in England.

On Friday the number of daily reported cases of infection passed 40,000 for the first time since early September.

Dr Edward Morris, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “We are urgently calling for all pregnant women to come forward for their vaccinations. There is robust evidence showing that the vaccine is the most effective way to protect both mother and baby against the possibility of severe illness from COVID-19. The disproportionate number of unvaccinated pregnant women in intensive care demonstrates that there is a significant risk of severe illness from COVID-19 in pregnancy.

“We do understand women’s concerns about having the vaccine in pregnancy, and we want to reassure women that there is no link between having the vaccine and an increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth, or stillbirth.”

Sarah McMullen, of the National Childbirth Trust, said: “The news that unvaccinated pregnant women now make up nearly 20% of England’s most critically ill COVID patients is a damning indictment of the lack of attention given to this vulnerable group as restrictions have eased.

“It is absolutely understandable that pregnant women have questions and hesitations about vaccinations. The risks of COVID during pregnancy make it as important as ever that women have access to reliable information and support so that they can make an informed decision about the vaccine.

“We’ve been extremely disappointed to hear of so much misinformation and confusion about the vaccination programme and so little focus on what’s needed to keep vulnerable groups safe as restrictions have eased. We strongly encourage pregnant women to consider having the COVID-19 vaccination and have information on our website to help them make a decision.”

Tags: Childbirth and Pregnancy | Flu & Viruses | UK News | Women's Health & Gynaecology

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