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Pregnant women in the Midlands are being urged to get vaccinated as the latest data reinforces previous findings on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnancy.
This latest analysis from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows that vaccinated women who gave birth between January and October 2021 had a very similar low risk of stillbirth, low birthweight and premature birth compared to women who were not vaccinated in pregnancy.
The data shows that women who had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine during their pregnancy and gave birth between April and October 2021 were more likely to give birth without any of the reported adverse outcomes than women who had not been vaccinated in pregnancy (92.9% compared with 91.6%). This difference was more apparent in those aged 30 years and older.
The stillbirth rate for vaccinated women who gave birth was approximately 3.6 per 1,000, a similar rate for women who were not vaccinated in pregnancy (3.9 per 1,000).
This supports statements made by the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (RCOG) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) that there is no evidence to suggest that any COVID-19 vaccines used in England are unsafe for pregnant women, and there is no evidence that they will cause any problems for women wanting to become pregnant in the future.
Previous studies have shown the risk of being severely ill with coronavirus (COVID-19) is higher for unvaccinated women. Yet vaccination rates in the Midlands among pregnant women remain concerning, despite the results showing that the vaccines protect pregnant women from illness and the need for hospital admission.
Take-up among pregnant women in the Midlands is 69.8% for the first dose of the COVID vaccine and 62% for the second dose.
New research funded by Wellbeing of Women and The National Institute of Health Research shows that severe COVID-19 infection significantly increases the risk of harmful outcomes for mothers and their babies.
The study found that severe COVID-19 infection in pregnant women, particularly in the third trimester, significantly increased the risk of giving birth early, having an induction or a Caesarean, having a stillborn baby or a baby that needed intensive care. Tragically, during the study period, 22 women died with severe COVID-19 during pregnancy, 59 babies were stillborn and 10 babies died around the time of birth.
Dr Vijay Rawal, Deputy Medical Director of Commissioning at NHS England and NHS Improvement in the Midlands, said:
“We do understand women’s concerns about having the vaccine in pregnancy, but the evidence for the safety of the COVID vaccine and the dangers of not being protected from COVID-19 is clear. So, we are urging pregnant women in the Midlands to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
“Pregnant women should speak to their GP, obstetrician or midwife, or a healthcare professional in a vaccination centre. Women who are planning pregnancy, or have immediately given birth to their baby, or are breastfeeding can be vaccinated with any vaccine, depending on their age and clinical risk group.
“It is important that pregnant women are protected with all their vaccine doses to keep themselves and their baby safe. It’s important that women don’t wait until after they have given birth.”
Vaccines do not contain live coronavirus and cannot infect a pregnant woman or her unborn baby in the womb.
Across the Midlands there is an ‘evergreen’ offer for COVID-19 vaccinations meaning anyone who has not yet been vaccinated is able to come forward at any time to start their vaccinations. Those who are eligible can now use the NHS online walk-in finder to find the most convenient site to get their first, second dose or booster without an appointment. People who are eligible can also book an appointment at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus-vaccination/ or by calling 119.