Maternity Royal Colleges welcome increased COVID-19 vaccine uptake in pregnant women
As new COVID-19 vaccine uptake figures in pregnancy are published today, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) are urging pregnant women who have not been vaccinated to consider having the jab to protect themselves and their baby from the virus.
The statistics out today from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) show nearly three in five women (59.5%) who gave birth in January had received at least one dose of the vaccine, up from 53.7% in December 2021. Of those, over half (50.6%) had received two doses of the vaccine, up from 43.3% in December 2021.
This follows new research published earlier this week from St George’s, University of London and the RCOG. This reinforced the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine for women and their babies and found that it reduced stillbirths by 15%.
Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the RCM, said: “This is really welcome news because we know that having the vaccine is the best way for women to protect themselves, their baby, and their families. Hundreds of thousands of pregnant women across the UK, Europe and the USA have had the vaccine with no harms reported. We must though not forget that this potentially deadly virus is still circulating at high levels. As COVID-19 restrictions loosen it is more important than ever to have the jab.
“Take-up among pregnant women still remains low compared to the rest of the population. This is understandable as we know women may have concerns about the vaccine. I would urge them to speak to their midwife, obstetrician, or GP about having the vaccine, where they will get advice, support, and real evidence about the safety of the jab.”
Worryingly the UKHSA figures show COVID-19 vaccine uptake remains low among Black pregnant women and those living in the most deprived areas. Just 30.5% of Black women had one or more doses of the vaccine by the time of delivery between November 2021 and January 2022, compared to 57.5% of White women. Both Colleges say a concerted effort is needed to reach women in these communities with information about the importance and safety of the vaccine.
Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “We know pregnant women have been hesitant about having the vaccine due to concerns over the effect on their baby. We now have strong evidence to show that the vaccine does not increase the risk of adverse outcomes and is the best way of protecting both women and their babies from COVID-19.
“It’s positive we are seeing more pregnant women giving birth who are vaccinated however there are still two fifths of women who aren’t and that is worrying, particularly as COVID-19 is still prevalent. We are particularly concerned by the low uptake among Black pregnant women and people living in deprived areas of the UK. More efforts need to be made to ensure the right messaging and evidence-based advice is reaching these communities.
“We would recommend all pregnant women have the COVID-19 vaccine and the booster vaccine. COVID-19 is still prevalent and if you do get the virus when you’re pregnant then you are at higher risk of severe illness.”
Information about COVID-19 in pregnancy and the vaccine for women and health professionals is on the RCM’s COVID Hub at Coronavirus Hub - RCM.
The RCOG also has an extensive Q&A section for pregnant women and their families on the RCOG website at www.rcog.org.uk/coronavirus-pregnancy.
About the RCM
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance, and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences, and online resources. For more information visit the RCM | A professional organisation and trade union dedicated to serving the whole midwifery team.
About the RCOG
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is a medical charity that champions the provision of women’s healthcare in the UK and beyond. It is dedicated to encouraging the study and advancing the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. It does this through postgraduate medical education and training and the publication of clinical guidelines and reports on aspects of the specialty and service provision.