New safety data published today by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows that in August 2021, 22% of women who gave birth were vaccinated. This has been steadily increasing since April 2021, when JCVI advised all pregnant women should be offered two vaccine doses at the same time as the rest of the population.
The figures also show uptake in the most deprived areas and for those from certain ethnic minority communities is lower than for other areas or ethnicities, but follows a similar pattern to the uptake figures for these groups in the general population. This includes 5.5% of black women and 7.8% of women from the most deprived areas being vaccinated.
Of those pregnant women in hospital with symptomatic COVID-19, 98% are unvaccinated. Around one in five women who are hospitalised with the virus need to be delivered preterm to help them recover and one in five of their babies need care in the neonatal unit.
The RCOG strongly recommends pregnant women get vaccinated against COVID-19, as the best way to protect themselves and their babies from the virus.
Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:
“This important report is the first detailed analysis of COVID-19 vaccine coverage in women giving birth in the UK and provides further reassuring evidence that vaccinated women have no increased risk of having a stillbirth or low birthweight baby.
“The evidence reinforces our strong recommendation that getting vaccinated before or during pregnancy is the best way to protect against the known harms of developing COVID-19 while pregnant, including admission to intensive care and premature birth.
“We are concerned that women of Black ethnicity and those living in the most deprived areas in England were least likely to have been vaccinated before they gave birth. Efforts must be strengthened to support and encourage these groups – who are already at the highest risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes - to accept the offer of vaccination.”
DHSC’s Chief Scientific Adviser and Honorary Consultant Obstetrician Professor Lucy Chappell 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 extremely dangerous for pregnant women in particular.
“It is therefore really important that they get their COVID-19 vaccine - which has now protected tens of millions of women around the world.
“Today’s data is hugely reassuring and further shows the vaccines continue to be the best way expectant mothers can keep themselves and their babies safe from this virus.”
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