Just 31% of black pregnant women had one or more doses of the Covid vaccine by the time their baby was delivered between November 2021 and January 2022, compared to 58% of white women.
This is the findings in the latest update from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), which also warned of low uptake among women living with deprivation.
Only 39% of pregnant women in the most deprived areas of England had received one or more doses of the vaccine before delivery in the same time frame, compared to 71% in the least deprived areas.
Overall, uptake was improving over time, UKHSA found, with the take-up rate among women giving birth in January standing at 59.5%, up from 54% in December 2021 and 49% in November 2021.
The data also found that 51% of women had received two doses of the Covid vaccine in January – up from 43% in December 2021 and 38% in November 2021.
Dr Gayatri Amirthalingam, deputy director of the Immunisation and Vaccine Preventable Diseases Division at UKHSA, said it was ‘very encouraging’ to see ‘the number of pregnant women coming forward for their Covid-19 vaccine increasing month by month’ as they are ‘at higher risk of severe disease’.
‘However, disparities in uptake persist, with women from some ethnic groups and those living in the most deprived areas being the least likely to be vaccinated. It is vitally important that we continue to address these disparities,’ se added.
NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme head Steve Russell said the increasing number of pregnant women opting to get vaccinated is ‘really positive’ and that ‘the NHS has been clear that getting protected is the best thing you can do if you are pregnant.’
He added: ‘Whether your next dose is your first or fourth, the NHS vaccine programme offer is evergreen and you can come forward at any time, with local healthcare professionals happy to address any concerns you may have.’
The latest figures take the total number of pregnant women who have received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine, between January 2021 and January 2022, to 125,365. In the same time period, 88,736 pregnant women received at least two doses and 14,378 women received three doses.
Pregnant women were added as a Covid clinical risk group by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation after findings that almost a fifth of the most critically ill Covid patients in England were pregnant and unvaccinated.
Research has also found that pregnant women from minority ethnic backgrounds are at particularly high risk of suffering severe Covid-19.