The truth about Covid vaccinations and the 'risk' posed to mums-to-be as experts plead with women after 'sad' cases of 'very, very poorly' patients at Blackpool Victoria Hospital
Experts are urging more mothers-to-be to have a Covid-19 vaccine as new data showed the jabs are safe in pregnancy.
Women who have had a jab are no more likely than the unvaccinated to suffer stillbirth, premature birth or have babies with low birthweight, figures published by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) showed.
Experts described the findings as reassuring, with Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at the UKHSA, saying: “Every pregnant woman who has not yet been vaccinated should feel confident to go and get the jab.”
The call was backed by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), which said women should not risk contracting Covid-19, which can have “serious consequences for both mother and baby”, particularly in the late stages of pregnancy.
One in five of the most critically ill Covid patients in hospital since July have been pregnant women who have not been vaccinated.
Of all pregnant women in hospital with the virus, 98 per cent are unvaccinated.
Last week, Dr Jim Gardner, medical director at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, said medics there continue to see ‘very, very poorly’ unvaccinated mums-to-be.
In October, Ivy-Rose Court, nine days, died after being born at the Vic to unvaccinated mum Katie Leeming, 22, who said she dodged the jab after reading horror stories online.The bakery worker said: “It scared me and put me off.”
Around a fifth of pregnant women who end up in hospital with Covid need to deliver their baby early so they can recover, while one in five of their babies needs care in a neonatal unit.
Despite the risks, just 22 per cent of women who gave birth in August had opted for a vaccine.
While uptake among pregnant women is improving, experts are worried about some groups shunning the vaccine, including younger women, those in the most deprived areas and women from black and minority ethnic communities.
The new data for England published by the UKHSA covers the eight-month period between January and August this year.
It looked at 355,299 women who gave birth, of whom 24,759 had received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine.
The data found no woman who was fully vaccinated and pregnant was admitted to intensive care with Covid between February and the end of September.
It also found that:
* The stillbirth rate for vaccinated women who gave birth was approximately 3.35 per 1,000, slightly lower than the rate for unvaccinated women (3.60 per 1,000) seen in January to August;
* The proportion of vaccinated women giving birth to babies with low birthweight (5.28 per cent) was similar to the proportion for unvaccinated women (5.36 per cent);
* The proportion of premature births was 6.51 per cent for vaccinated and 5.99 per cent for unvaccinated women.
The UKHSA said the small differences between groups may be explained by differences in the women eligible for and taking up the vaccine.
The data also found that women living in the most deprived areas of England were least likely to have been vaccinated with at least one dose before they gave birth.
Just 7.8 per cent of women living in more deprived areas of England had a vaccine while pregnant, compared to 26.5 per cent in less deprived areas.
Black women were also the least likely to be vaccinated at the time of birth (5.5 per cent), followed by women of Asian ethnicity (13.5 per cent), and mixed ethnicity (14 per cent).
Women who were from a white background were the most vaccinated (17.5 per cent) out of the group.
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