Why pregnant women should consider getting the vaccine

02 May 2021
Volume 29 · Issue 5


The latest column by BJM editor, Alexandra Uytenbogaardt.

Earlier this month, the Joint Committee for Vaccination (JCVI) and Immunisation announced that the vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 will now be offered to all pregnant women, and not just to those who are more at risk of contracting the virus, such as health and social workers or those with underlying health conditions.

This announcement came about following the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists' (RCOG) presentation of evidence to the JCVI on the impact SARS-CoV-2 has on all pregnant women. ‘Vaccination offers pregnant women the best protection from COVID-19, which can be serious in some women. We know pregnant women can get unwell with COVID-19; one in five pregnant women who become unwell and are admitted to hospital will have a premature birth,’ says President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Dr Edward Morris.

Despite clinical trials testing the vaccine's efficacy for pregnant women having just begun in the UK, the JCVI based their decision on data from the US which have vaccinated approximately 90 000 pregnant women with the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines and which showed no concern for safety. Therefore, based on this, the JCVI have offered either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna mRNA vaccines to pregnant women in the UK.

‘Vaccination offers pregnant women the best protection from COVID-19’

‘This announcement from the JCVI brings the UK into line with the US and other countries who have been offering the COVID-19 vaccine to pregnant women since December, and should provide reassurance to pregnant women, as well as those planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding, that vaccination is an option for them,’ says RCOG's consultant obstetrician, Professor Lucy Chappell.

Of course, the choice lies with the individual whether to get the vaccine or not. However, midwives are encouraged to assist pregnant women with making an informed choice, whatever it may be, as highlighted by Director for Professional Midwifery and COVID-19 vaccine lead at the Royal College of Midwives, Dr Mary Ross-Davie:

‘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 is an opportunity for all pregnant women in the UK to feel empowered to make the right decision for themselves while simultaneously protecting the rest of the UK from contracting the virus.