The North West’s top midwife is encouraging pregnant women to get the COVID-19 vaccine as new data shows that nearly 20% of the most critically ill Covid patients are pregnant women who have not been vaccinated.
It has been revealed that, since July, one in five Covid patients receiving treatment through a special lung-bypass machine have been expectant mums who have not had their first jab. Pregnant women have been treated with a therapy, called Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), used only when a patient’s lungs are so damaged by Covid that a ventilator cannot maintain oxygen levels.
Sue Stansfield, Chief Midwife for NHS England and NHS Improvement (North West) has spoken out to reassure women that the vaccine is safe and effective during pregnancy and is recommended by clinicians and charities.
She said: “The COVID-19 vaccine can help keep you and your baby out of hospital. If you are pregnant and haven’t yet had your Covid vaccine we advise you to get it as soon as possible. You can get the vaccination at any time in your pregnancy. The vaccine is safe and effective for pregnant women at any time in their pregnancy.”
Two NHS workers who are currently pregnant have also spoken of their experiences of having the Covid vaccine, calling on other women to come forward to be protected.
Rosie Seed, a paediatric staff nurse at Royal Lancaster Infirmary, is 28 weeks pregnant and read up on the vaccine before making an informed decision to have it.
She said: “When the vaccination first came out I was apprehensive about having it as I was trying for a baby and the guidance was to wait, but once the guidance was updated I knew it was the safest thing to do for me and my baby. I know a number of people have short term side effects from the vaccine but I didn’t really have any, just a sore arm that lasted for a couple of days.
“Working on the frontline I have talked with paediatric doctors and they have told me about some of the pregnant women being quite unwell after catching Covid. Looking at the recent research I am very glad that I had it. I understand some people might be apprehensive but it’s the safest thing to do and for you and your baby.”
Emma Fenwick, 33, a newly qualified nursing associate at a GP practice in Lancashire, had her first two doses of the vaccine before her pregnancy after previously suffering a miscarriage, and as a healthcare worker, has recently received her Covid booster dose.
Emma said: “I am so thankful that I have had both jabs and the booster along with my flu vaccination. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have the vaccine to protect yourself, your baby and your family. I am protecting me, my baby and my family by having the vaccine. We have trusted the NHS immunisation programme for years to protect us and our children and I for one will continue to do so.”
Data from Public Health England shows that over 81,000 pregnant women have received the first dose of the life-saving Covid jab, and around 65,000 have received their second dose.
Dr Linda Charles-Ozuzu, Regional Director of Commissioning, NHS England and NHS Improvement North West, said: “It’s really encouraging to see increasing numbers of pregnant women having the vaccine, but many more remain unvaccinated, which is of great concern, and we urge them to come forward now. If you catch COVID-19 while you are pregnant you risk becoming severely unwell. The vaccine will help protect you and your baby.
”We have more than 160 walk-in vaccine sites across the North West, making it as easy and convenient as possible for people to fit in having their vaccine around work and family commitments. Pregnant women are encouraged to speak to their GP or midwife if they have questions about getting the jab.”