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Maternity Royal Colleges welcome extension to booster COVID-19 vaccine programme

News 30 November 2021

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives have welcomed a decision by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to roll out the COVID-19 booster vaccine to all people over the age of 18, meaning the majority of pregnant women will be eligible for their third dose when the NHS calls them forward.

The booster will be offered in order of descending age groups, with priority given to the vaccination of older adults and those in a COVID-19 at-risk group. The JCVI has also reduced the gap between vaccines and is now recommending people get their third dose three months after their second dose.

Commenting on the update, Dr Pat O’Brien, Vice President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “The news today means that most pregnant women will now be able to have their booster vaccine and protect themselves and their baby against COVID-19.

“It is crucial that people who are pregnant are fully vaccinated and protected against COVID-19 and we would urge everyone to have the third dose when they are offered it. All doses of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are safe for pregnant women.

“We are still very concerned about the low uptake of the vaccine among pregnant women, with recent UKHSA data showing only 1 in 5 people who gave birth in August were vaccinated. We know pregnant women can become severely ill from COVID-19 infection, particularly during their third trimester.”

Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the RCM, said: “It is more important than ever that pregnant women get the COVID vaccine or, for those who may have received both doses before getting pregnant, the booster.  You can have these at any time during your pregnancy, but would recommend you try to get both vaccines before your third trimester. We’ve already seen nearly 2000 pregnant women admitted to hospital with COVID-19, 98% of whom were unvaccinated. The vaccine is safe, it’s effective and it can protect you and your baby, so please do take it up.

“We know that pregnant women want to do the best for their baby, to protect them as best they can. Across the world, hundreds of thousands of pregnant women have safely received the COVID vaccine, with no red flags for their or their babies’ health. If you are unsure or have any questions about the vaccination talk to your midwife, doctor or other healthcare professional who will be able to support you make the right choice for you and your baby.”

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact the RCOG press office on +44 (0)7740 175342 or email pressoffice@rcog.org.uk. To contact the RCM Media Office call 020 7312 3456, or email media@rcm.org.uk.

Notes to Editors:

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) previously advised that those aged over 40 years and those at higher risk from coronavirus (COVID-19) should be offered a booster.

We have an extensive Q&A section for pregnant women and their families on the RCOG website: www.rcog.org.uk/coronavirus-pregnancy

About the RCOG

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is a medical charity that champions the provision of women’s healthcare in the UK and beyond. It is dedicated to encouraging the study and advancing the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. It does this through postgraduate medical education and training and the publication of clinical guidelines and reports on aspects of the specialty and service provision.

About the RCM

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team.  We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance, and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences, and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website.