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Practices should encourage pregnant women to get Covid vaccine

by Beth Gault
2 August 2021

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GP practices should encourage pregnant women to get the Covid-19 vaccine, England’s chief midwifery officer has said.  

Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, chief midwifery officer, has written to practices and fellow midwives to stress the need to provide information for pregnant women in order that they can ‘take action to protect themselves’.  

It comes after figures revealed that 98% of pregnant women hospitalised with the virus have not had the Covid vaccine.  

Three pregnant women have been admitted to hospital after having their first dose of the vaccine since May.  

The UK Obstetric Surveillance System (UKOSS) data also shows the number of pregnant women being admitted to hospital with Covid is increasing, with many experiencing acute symptoms.

A total of 3,371 pregnant women have been admitted to hospital with symptomatic Covid since the pandemic began, according to the data.

In the past three months, 33% of pregnant women in hospital with Covid required additional respiratory support, 37% developed pneumonia and 15% needed intensive care.  

Ms Dunkley-Bent said: ‘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.’ 

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.’ 

Dr Morris stressed that pregnant women can also have their second dose eight weeks after their first, which would provide a good level of immunity.  

It comes after over 85 million Covid-19 vaccinations have been administered in the UK. Over 88% of adults have had their first dose, and over 72% have had both doses, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.  

Public Health England recently revealed that almost 52,000 pregnant women have received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine.

Practices and primary care networks (PCNs) delivered 4.2 million of these Covid vaccines in June