Pregnant women to be offered Covid vaccines after research shows jabs are safe

Pregnant women are to be offered a Covidvaccination at the same time as other people their age as part of the UK vaccination roll out.

In new advice the government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said there were no safety concerns identified for pregnant women or their babies.

Women will be able to have the dose at any stage during their pregnancy.

The decision comes after new data from the United States where almost 90,000 pregnant women have been vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines – with no safety concerns being raised.

The JCVI has said it would be “preferable” for pregnant women in the UK to be offered the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines where this is possible.

Pregnant women are at a greater risk from severe Covid in later pregnancy and infected women are two to three times more likely to give birth to their baby prematurely.

In a statement on Friday, the Department of Health and Social Care said there was no evidence that other vaccines were unsafe, but more research was needed on their use.

There is nothing to suggest the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is unsafe specifically for pregnant women.

Professor Wei Shen Lim, Covid-19 chair for JCVI, said: “We encourage pregnant women to discuss the risks and benefits with their clinician – those at increased risk of severe outcomes from Covid-19 are encouraged to promptly take up the offer of vaccination when offered.

“There have been no specific safety concerns from any brand of Covid-19 vaccines in relation to pregnancy.

“There are more real-world safety data from the US in relation to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines in women who are pregnant – therefore, we advise a preference for these to be offered to pregnant women.”

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England said the data “provide confidence” the vaccines can be offered to pregnant women.

It is thought the vaccine rollout has saved at least 10,000 lives and has helped cut emergency admissions from the over 80’s by 75 per cent.

Dr Edward Morris, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), said: “Vaccination offers pregnant women the best protection from Covid-19, which can be serious in some women.

“We believe it should be a woman’s choice whether to have the vaccine or not after considering the benefits and risks and would encourage pregnant women to discuss with a trusted source like their GP, obstetrician or midwife, or a healthcare professional in a vaccination centre.

“This move will empower all the pregnant women in the UK to make the decision that is right for them, at the same time that the non-pregnant population in their age group receive protection from Covid-19.”

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