The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has announced that all pregnant women should be offered the Covid-19 vaccine as part of the vaccination roll-out plan. Find out more.
As of Friday 16 April, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) have said that all pregnant women should be offered a Covid-19 vaccine.
Although clinical trials involving pregnant women in the UK are just starting, around 90,000 women in the US have been vaccinated with mRNA vaccines (these include the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines). There haven’t been any safety concerns reported following these vaccinations.
Therefore, the JCVI has said that all pregnant women should be offered the Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna vaccines when they are rolled out to the wider population. Anyone who is expecting a baby can make their own decision on the benefits and risks.
They had previously stated that there wasn’t enough evidence to recommend the general use of Covid-19 vaccines during pregnancy, and vaccinations were only being offered to pregnant women considered at high risk of catching the virus.
Some pregnant women may become very unwell if they catch Covid-19, especially towards the end of their pregnancy.
All pregnant women will be able to have the vaccine, although you’ll need to wait until you’re offered it depending on your age and level of clinical risk.
Currently, the vaccine is being offered to pregnant women who are clinically extremely vulnerable. This is because their underlying condition puts them at a higher risk of experiencing serious complications of Covid-19.
The vaccine is also being offered to women who are frontline health or social care workers, including carers in residential homes. This is because their risk of exposure to Covid-19 is higher.
Other groups currently being offered the vaccine are those at high risk of Covid-19 because of health and personal factors including age, BMI and underlying health conditions (including pregnant women in priority group 6). Expectant mums diagnosed with gestational diabetes are also eligible for vaccination. Ethnicity is also a factor, and if you are of Black or Asian ethnicity, or from another minority ethnic background, you are at higher risk of catching Covid-19.
In line with the vaccination roll-out, pregnant women over the age of 42 are currently being offered the jab. All remaining pregnant women will be offered the vaccine when roll-out reaches their age group.
This Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) info sheet gives clear information to help you make a decision on whether to have the vaccine or not. Remember, you will be contacted by the NHS if you are eligible for a vaccination – you don’t have to ask for it yourself. A health professional will discuss the benefits and risks of vaccination in pregnancy on an individual basis, to help you make an informed decision.
Further information can be found on the RCOG website.
Because Covid-19 can be more serious in later pregnancy, some mums-to-be might wait until after 12 weeks to have their vaccination. This is because these are the most important for a baby’s development. Therefore, they’d have the jab anytime from 13 weeks onwards and before the third trimester.
However, the vaccination should work at whatever stage of pregnancy you are in.
If you are pregnant and at a very high risk of catching the infection, or you have clinical conditions putting you at high risk of suffering serious complications from Covid-19, you will be contacted about having the vaccine – you don’t need to do anything yourself. You can then discuss the risks and benefits of vaccination with your doctor or nurse.
If you’re over the age of 42, you’ll also be contacted about having the vaccination.
If you’re not at a high risk of catching coronavirus, you’ll be contacted about having the vaccine when it is rolled out to those under 42.
The Covid-19 vaccines we use in the UK are not ‘live’ and so do not cause a Covid-19 infection in you or your baby. What’s more, studies of the vaccine on pregnant animals haven’t shown any signs that the vaccine harms the pregnancy or fertility.
Because mRNA jabs, such as the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, have been used for 90,000 pregnant women in the US without safety concerns, the JCVI is recommending that these vaccines should preferably be offered to pregnant women.
This is rather than the AstraZeneca vaccine, which hasn’t been given in the US. Although there is no evidence to suggest it is unsafe to give to pregnant women, the JCVI says more research is needed.
At the same time, the government had also advised that people under 30 should be offered an alternative vaccine to the AstraZeneca vaccine because of the benefit to risk ration of that group. This is because of the reports that about four (non pregnant) people have experienced serious blood clots for every million doses of this vaccine.
Pregnancy can make you more liable to blood clots, so you should discuss with your healthcare professional whether the benefits of a vaccination outweigh the risks.
You shouldn’t be put under any pressure to have the vaccine or not have the vaccine. If you chose not to have the vaccine, you should still continue be given the same protections for at-risk groups, such as being allowed to work in a different place.
You may find the decision on whether or not to get vaccinated an emotional and difficult one to make. But be aware that many messages on online and other forums are based on individual opinion and not on scientific evidence.
Speak to a health professional about the vaccine to get up-to-date and reliable guidance. This RCOG info sheet can also help you make an informed decision.
If you’re breastfeeding and wondering if it’s safe to have the Covid-19 vaccine, read our article here.
See all our information on pregnancy and parenthood and coronavirus.
Our Walk & Talks are helping parents feel connected during the pandemic. Check your local NCT branch Facebook page to see if they’re happening in your area, or find out more here.