England’s chief midwife has issued a plea for pregnant women to come forward and have a Covid-19 vaccine.
Estimates based on data collected from GP surgeries and Public Health England (PHE) records suggest that hundreds of thousands of women have not yet been vaccinated. The number of pregnant women in hospital with Covid-19 is increasing and there are concerns that the Delta variant, which was first detected in India, is more dangerous for expectant mothers.
Over the course of the last three months, 171 women in England required hospital treatment for Covid-19 and none had received both vaccine doses.
In a letter to GPs, midwives and obstetricians, chief midwife, Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, encouraged all health professionals to actively encourage pregnant women to come forward for the jab. Health professionals, she stated, have a duty to provide information for patients and to urge them to consider the health benefits of having the vaccine during pregnancy.
Addressing women who may be unsure about having their jabs, the chief midwife said that data shows that vaccines save lives and recent statistics linked to Covid-19 in pregnancy underline the importance of having the vaccine as soon as possible.
Pregnant women have been advised to have the vaccine since April 2021 and jabs are now available for all adults in the UK. Despite the availability of vaccines, including the Pfizer and Moderna jabs for pregnant women, uptake remains lower among those expecting a baby.
Recent data from PHE suggest that around 51,725 pregnant women have had their first vaccine dose and of these, approximately 20,650 have received a second dose. It is estimated that there will be around 606,500 pregnant women in England in 2020/2021.
Although the risk of severe illness linked to Covid-19 is very low among pregnant women, research suggests that risks are higher during the later stages of pregnancy and that the Delta variant is more likely to cause more severe symptoms.
Data from UK Obstetric Surveillance indicates that 98% of pregnant women hospitalised up to July 2021 were not vaccinated. One in seven women admitted to hospital required intensive care treatment and 1 in 5 women gave birth prematurely. The risk of needing a Caesarean section also increased.