Women who are or are intending to get pregnant have been urged to get their Covid jabs after ‘stark’ data showed 98% of expectant mums admitted to hospital and in intensive care were unvaccinated.
Professor Chris Whitty told a Downing Street press briefing the figures are ‘a major concern’ as he renewed a plea for anyone who has yet to take up the vaccine to do so.
England’s chief medical officer said academic data from February 1 to September 30 showed that 1,714 pregnant women were admitted to hospital with Covid-19, adding: ‘Of those, 1,681 – which is to say 98% – had not been vaccinated.
‘And if you go to those who are very severely ill in intensive care, of 235 women admitted to ICU, 232 of them – over 98% – had not been vaccinated.’
Prof Whitty went on: ‘These are preventable admissions to ICU and there have been deaths.
‘All the medical opinion is really clear that the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks in every area. This is a universal view among doctors and among the midwife advisory groups and among the scientific advisory groups.
‘So can I please encourage all women who are pregnant or wishing to become pregnant to get their vaccination.’
The latest Government figures show that a further 47 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the UK total to 142,945.
Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have been 167,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
There have also been a further 39,705 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases as of 9am on Monday.
It is the latest in a series of calls for pregnant women to get their jabs, with England’s chief midwife, Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists president Dr Edward Morris and Health Secretary Sajid Javid all having spoken out to encourage this group to take up the vaccine offer.
Last week, Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, told BBC News that unvaccinated pregnant women should not ‘defer the vaccination until after the pregnancy has ended but to get vaccinated while they are pregnant’.
His call came as the family of a woman who died before getting the chance to hold her new-born daughter made their own plea for people to get the jab.
Prof Finn told the BBC: ‘We now recognise that pregnant women are really at very substantially higher risk of getting seriously ill as compared to women of the same age who are not pregnant, and of course that increases the risk of premature delivery and the risks for the child.
‘So pregnant women wherever you are in your pregnancy, come forward, get vaccinated and protect yourself and your baby as soon as you can.
‘There are no described risks and very large numbers of pregnant women have now received these vaccines without any report of lost pregnancies or damage or injury to the foetus.
‘So far no evidence at all of any risks of the vaccine, but lots of evidence of real risk of the infection.’
Saiqa Parveen, 37, from Birmingham, was taken to hospital in September after contracting Covid-19 and her daughter was delivered by emergency caesarean section when she was eight months pregnant.
She died on November 1 before getting a chance to hold her new-born child.
Her brother, Qayoum Mughal, told the BBC: ‘I pray to everybody, please, get the vaccine. Save yourselves and your loved ones.’
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), previously said it was ‘vital’ pregnant women received both vaccines as well as the third dose booster vaccine if they are eligible for it.
Chief scientific adviser for the Department of Health and Social Care, Professor Lucy Chappell, told BBC News: ‘Of women, over 98% unvaccinated with Covid-19 in hospital.
‘Never too late in pregnancy to get vaccinated or have conversation with midwife or GP or obstetrician and we can reduce number of people in hospital and intensive care.
‘Overwhelming data on safety on vaccines is very positive.’
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