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Pregnant women urged to get vaccinated after worrying rise in hospital admissions for COVID

Written by on July 29, 2021

Unvaccinated expectant mothers are at greater risk from the Delta variant, with both mother and unborn baby at particular danger of becoming severely ill from COVID-19.

There has been a worrying rise in the number of unvaccinated women being admitted to hospital with severe COVID-19, according to new data published by the University of Oxford.

Figures suggest about one in 10 pregnant women admitted to hospital with COVID symptoms requires intensive care, and about one in five gives birth prematurely.

The study reported that no pregnant women with both doses of the vaccine had been admitted to hospital between the start of the pandemic and early July.

Professor Marian Knight, the study’s chief investigator, said: “About 200 pregnant women were admitted to hospital with COVID-19 last week.

“I cannot emphasise more strongly how important it is for pregnant women to get vaccinated in order to protect both them and their baby.

“Until they are vaccinated, pregnant women must continue to be extremely attentive to social distancing measures including mask wearing, 2m distancing and meeting outdoors where possible.”

More on Covid-19

The data found that almost all of the pregnant women – more than 99% – admitted to hospital with symptomatic COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

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‘No one knows where cases will eventually end up’

Professor Knight is urging all pregnant women to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their unborn babies.

‘It is extremely good news that so few vaccinated pregnant women have been admitted to hospital with COVID-19,” she said.

“However, it is very concerning that admissions of pregnant women to hospital with COVID-19 are increasing and that pregnant women appear to be more severely affected by the Delta variant of the disease.”

The data relates to all pregnant women admitted with symptoms of confirmed COVID-19 in the UK from the beginning of the pandemic up to 11 July 2021.

It found 3,371 pregnant women had been admitted to hospital with symptomatic COVID-19 and the severity of women’s illness appeared to have become worse.

While 24% of women admitted in the first wave had moderate or severe disease, this rose to 36% with the Alpha variant and 45% with the Delta variant.

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In the last three months alone, 33% of pregnant women in hospital with COVID-19 in England required additional respiratory support – with 37% developing pneumonia and around 15% needing intensive care.

The data also shows that one in five women admitted to hospital with serious COVID symptoms went on to give birth prematurely, and the likelihood of delivery by caesarean section doubled.

One in five babies born to mothers with COVID symptoms were also admitted to neonatal units.

Vaccination data has been collected since 1 February.

It found that from the 742 women admitted since that date only four have received a single dose of vaccine and none have received both doses.

Nicola Vousden, the first author of the study, said: ‘Worldwide more than 200,000 pregnant women have now received a COVID vaccine, with more than 50,000 in the UK.

“This study shows that very few pregnant women are admitted to hospital with COVID-19 after they have received a vaccine.

“Other studies have shown that women who have received a vaccine pass on antibodies to their babies, so the benefits of vaccination to both pregnant women and their babies are clear.’

Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, England’s chief midwifery officer, has written to fellow midwives and GP practices across the country stressing the need to encourage pregnant women to get the jab to protect them and their baby.

She said: “Vaccines save lives, and this is another stark reminder that the COVID-19 jab can keep you, your baby and your loved ones, safe and out of hospital.

“We need everyone to come forward and take up the evergreen offer of a jab which is why I am calling on pregnant women to take action to protect themselves and their babies and on my fellow midwives to ensure they have the information they need to do so.”

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‘No one knows where cases will eventually end up’

That warning was repeated by Dr Edward Morris, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, who said his members were seeing rising numbers of unvaccinated mothers admitted to hospitals.

He said: “Every day our members are seeing very sick pregnant women with COVID-19 in hospital and the majority are unvaccinated.

“We want to reassure pregnant women that COVID-19 vaccines are the safest and best way to protect you and your baby from severe illness and premature birth.

“One dose of COVID-19 vaccination gives good protection against infection, so the sooner you can book your first appointment the better.

“You can have your second dose eight weeks after your first, which will provide a good level of immunity against the Delta variant.”


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