Pregnant women are being urged to take up their offer of a Covid vaccine to reduce the risk of premature births related to the virus.
Public Health England said nearly 52,000 women who were pregnant, or thought they could be pregnant, have now had a Covid vaccine in England. Out of these, nearly 21,000 have had a second dose.
However, 95% of all pregnant women in hospital with Covid last week were unvaccinated.
Since April, the JCVI has advised that pregnant women should receive their Covid vaccination at the same time as other people in their age or risk cohort.
They are being offered Pfizer or Moderna because there is more safety data available for these vaccines.
Dr Edward Morris, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: ‘We are encouraged to see more than 50,000 pregnant women in England have received one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. We recommend vaccination in pregnancy as it’s the most effective way of protecting women and their babies from severe illness and premature birth.’
However he added that the college is ‘concerned that increasing rates of Covid-19 infection will adversely impact pregnant women.’
He said: ‘Of the pregnant women in hospital with Covid-19 last week, 95% were unvaccinated. We hope this reassuring data will help those undecided consider taking up the offer of a vaccine.’
PHE head of immunisation Dr Mary Ramsay said: ‘[W]e strongly urge anyone who has not yet taken up the offer to get both doses as soon as possible and for pregnant women to come forward for their second dose eight weeks after their first dose.
‘The vaccines continue to save thousands of lives and we are confident that they can be safely offered to pregnant women, but if you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to discuss these with a healthcare professional.’
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said: ‘It is brilliant to see so many pregnant women coming forward for their Covid-19 vaccines, ensuring they protect themselves and their baby from this awful virus.
‘While uncommon, severe illness from Covid-19 is more likely in later pregnancy and infection increases the risk of a premature birth. The Covid-19 vaccines are one of the best defences against infection, preventing at least 11.7 million infections in England alone.’