England’s chief midwife is encouraging pregnant women to get vaccinated, as new data shows that the overwhelming majority of pregnant woman who are being hospitalised with COVID-19 have not been vaccinated.
Just three women have been admitted to hospital after receiving their first vaccination. Almost all (98%) pregnant women who have been admitted to hospital have not have any dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Data from the UK Obstetric Surveillance System (UKOSS), also suggests that the severity of women’s illness appears to have become worse since the first wave. In comparison to 24% of pregnant women admitted in the first wave having moderate or severe disease, this increased to 36% of women with the Alpha variant and 45% with the Delta variant.
Both the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) have been calling for all pregnant women to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Now, the Chief Midwifery Officer for England, Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, has written to fellow midwives and GP practices across the country, stressing the importance of encouraging pregnant women to get vaccinated, as the most effective way of protecting women and their babies against the effects of COVID-19.
Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “Every day our members are seeing very sick pregnant women with COVID-19 in hospital and the majority are unvaccinated. We want to reassure pregnant women that COVID-19 vaccines are the safest and best way to protect you and your baby from severe illness and premature birth. One dose of COVID-19 vaccination gives good protection against infection, so the sooner you can book your first appointment the better. You can have your second dose eight weeks after your first, which will provide a good level of immunity against the Delta variant. We thank the Chief Midwife for her efforts to encourage pregnant women to get the jab.”
Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “Getting the vaccine is the best way to protect you and your baby against COVID-19. It really is that simple. Hundreds of thousands of pregnant women worldwide have been vaccinated, safely and effectively protecting themselves against COVID and dramatically reducing their risk of serious illness or harm to their baby.
“It’s so important for pregnant women to get their jab, particularly with the virus being so prevalent and the Delta variant proving itself to be so much more transmissible. If you have questions, talk to your midwife, talk to your obstetrician, talk to your GP. Get the answers you need and get the jab.”
Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, Chief Midwifery Officer for England, 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.
“Thanks to the planning, skill and dedication of hard-working staff the NHS Covid vaccination programme is the biggest in health service history and the most precise in Europe. But 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.”
Marian Knight, Professor of Maternal and Child Population Health at the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford and chief investigator of the UKOSS study, said: “It is extremely good news that so few vaccinated pregnant women have been admitted to hospital with COVID-19. However, it is very concerning that admissions of pregnant women to hospital with COVID-19 are increasing and that pregnant women appear to be more severely affected by the Delta variant of the disease.
“Around 200 pregnant women were admitted to hospital with COVID-19 last week. I cannot emphasise more strongly how important it is for pregnant women to get vaccinated in order to protect both them and their baby. Until they are vaccinated, pregnant women must continue to be extremely attentive to social distancing measures including mask wearing, 2m distancing and meeting outdoors where possible.”
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Notes to the editor
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) is a medical charity that champions the provision of high quality 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.