Health leaders across North Yorkshire and York are encouraging more pregnant women – and those who are trying for a baby – to get both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Catching COVID can cause problems with pregnancy. Women with COVID are two to three times more likely to have their babies early than women without COVID and getting the virus can lead to an increased risk of a condition called pre-eclampsia which causes high blood pressure.
While most pregnant women will fortunately only have mild cold/flu symptoms, COVID also causes some people to become very poorly. Pregnant women with COVID are more likely to need to go into hospital for treatment or even need to be admitted to Intensive Care than women with COVID who are not pregnant.
The COVID vaccination can be safely given during pregnancy and when breastfeeding and local doctors and midwives – together with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Royal College of Midwives – are urging women “to protect themselves and their bump”.
The independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) confirms the jab has been shown to be effective and safe for women carrying a baby, based on “real world evidence”, while the British Fertility Society says “there is absolutely no evidence, and no theoretical reason”, why any of the vaccines available would affect the fertility of women or men.
There’s more information on the NHS website on its Pregnancy, breastfeeding, fertility and coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination page.
NHS North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Chief Nurse, Sue Peckitt, said: “The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) rigorous safety monitoring of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnancy shows the vaccines are safe and there is no increased risk of miscarriage or stillbirth. There is no available evidence to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines will affect the unborn baby.
“Pregnant women have the same risk of getting COVID-19 as non-pregnant women but they may be at an increased risk of becoming severely ill, particularly if they get infected in the third trimester or if they also have underlying medical problems, compared to non-pregnant women.”
Dr Nigel Wells, Clinical Chair of NHS Vale of York CCG added: “The COVID-19 vaccines are one of the best defences against infection, with ‘real world’ data showing vaccines to be effective and safe for pregnant women.
“Our advice remains that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks for most people, including those who are pregnant. This advice has been endorsed by the independent COVID-19 Vaccine Benefit Risk Expert Working Group and Women’s Health Expert Advisory Group of the Commission on Human Medicines. If you are pregnant or looking to become pregnant, it is vitally important that you have both doses of the vaccine.”
Michala Little, Deputy Head of Midwifery at York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Getting the vaccine is the best way to protect you and your baby against COVID-19. It really is that simple.
“Hundreds of thousands of pregnant women worldwide have been vaccinated, safely and effectively protecting themselves against COVID and dramatically reducing their risk of serious illness or harm to their baby.
“If you have questions, please talk to your midwife, your obstetrician, or your GP.”
Dr Uwe Franke, an intensive care consultant at James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough, said: “We do see a huge difference in admission rates and severity of illness between fully vaccinated patients and patients who did not have a vaccination or only had one [dose]. Tragically, we are seeing pregnant patients come into hospital needing intensive care. Please do get double vaccinated. It really does make a huge difference.”
The JCVI has advised that Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are the preferred COVID-19 vaccines for eligible pregnant women of any age. Pregnant women who commenced vaccination with AstraZeneca, however, are advised to complete with the same vaccine.
In North Yorkshire more than 907,000 vaccinations have now been administered – 88 per cent of the adult population has had one dose, with more than 80 per cent double-jabbed. In York, almost 277,000 jabs have been given. Four in five adults have had at least one dose, with more than 70 per cent getting both doses.
People can book their vaccination appointment online through the NHS National Booking Service (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/book-coronavirus-vaccination/) or call 119.
If you’re aged aged 18 or over, you can get a COVID-19 vaccine from a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination site without an appointment. A small number of walk-in vaccination sites are also available for people aged 16 and 17.