Pregnant women SHOULD get Covid vaccines, No10's jab experts say

Pregnant women SHOULD get Covid vaccines: No10’s jab advisory panel changes guidance for mothers-to-be because evidence shows they are safe

  • JCVI encouraging pregnant women get Pfizer or Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine
  • Data from US rollout showed American jabs were safe for expectant mothers
  • No reason to believe AZ jab won’t be safe, but not enough evidence surfaced yet 

Pregnant women in Britain should be offered Pfizer or Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine, UK medical bosses concluded today.

Number 10’s vaccine advisory panel said real-world data from the rollout in the US had shown the two American jabs were safe for expectant mothers. 

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is now encouraging all pregnant women in Britain to come forward for a jab at the same time as their peers.

It is also recommending the vaccines for women trying for a baby or new mothers who are breastfeeding. 

Previous guidance said these groups should not be offered any Covid vaccine because no pregnant women were included in clinical trials. 

But there has never been any indication that the jabs would be unsafe, which is why health chiefs in the US included them in their vaccine programme.

The JCVI reviewed data from 90,000 pregnant American women given either Pfizer or Moderna’s jab to come to its conclusion.

It said the only reason AstraZeneca’s vaccine is not being recommended for pregnant women is because of a lack of research.  

Expectant mothers are at a greater risk of severe illness or death if they become infected with Covid compared to non-pregnant women of the same age. 

There are around 850,000 pregnancies per year in England and Wales, suggesting 630,000 women are carrying a child at any one time. 

Pregnant women in Britain will be offered Pfizer or Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine (file)


Number 10’s vaccine advisory panel said real-world data from the rollout in the US had shown the two American jabs were safe in expectant mothers

Pregnant women were not enrolled in any coronavirus vaccine trials, leading many to wonder if they should be vaccinated at all.

When vaccines for coronavirus first started to be rolled out, the World Health Organization warned that they should should not be used on pregnant women due to lack of evidence about the safety and efficacy. 

Later, the body walked back its advice and said vaccines can be administered in expectant mothers safely. 

The UK’s JCVI recommended pregnant women avoid taking the jabs until more evidence had emerged.

But health experts in other countries did the opposite, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US.

This is because expectant mothers are are at a greater risk of severe illness or death if they become infected with Covid-19 compared to non-pregnant women of the same age.

Experts say pregnant women should talk to their healthcare providers first and be informed of any potential risks of getting the vaccine.

When vaccines for Covid first started to be rolled out, the World Health Organization warned they should should not be used on pregnant women due to lack of evidence about their safety and efficacy. 

Later, the body walked back on its advice and said jabs can be administered to expectant mothers safely after more data emerged and it became clear that pregnant women were more likely to fall very ill with Covid than their peers.

Today’s decision brings the UK into line with the US, where pregnant women have been able to get the Covid jab at the same time as their peers since last year.

Professor Wei Lin Shen, from the JCVI, said: ‘We encourage pregnant women to discuss the risks and benefits with their clinician – those at increased risk of severe outcomes from Covid are encouraged to promptly take up the offer of vaccination when offered.

‘There have been no specific safety concerns from any brand of Covid vaccines in relation to pregnancy.

‘There are more real-world safety data from the US in relation to the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines in women who are pregnant – therefore, we advise a preference for these to be offered to pregnant women.’

Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at Public Health England (PHE), added: ‘The available data on the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines provide confidence that they can be offered safely to pregnant women.

‘The Covid vaccines continue to save thousands of lives and it is important that we encourage as many people as possible to take up the offer when it is their turn.’

A range of vaccines are already recommended for pregnant women in the UK, including the seasonal flu and whooping cough jabs.

Medics say the tetanus shot can also be given to those who are expecting if necessary. 

Top UK doctors praised the move from the JCVI, claiming it would ’empower’ pregnant women. 

Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), said: ‘We are grateful to the JCVI for taking into consideration our evidence and updating the guidance around the COVID-19 vaccine in pregnancy.

‘Vaccination offers pregnant women the best protection from COVID-19, which can be serious in some women.

‘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 move will empower all the pregnant women in the UK to make the decision that is right for them, at the same time that the non-pregnant population in their age group receive protection from COVID-19.’

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