Pregnant women of all ages, including those aged under 18 are being urged to come forward for vaccination if they haven’t already done so.
This follows the latest review of evidence by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), who now advise that pregnant women of any age should be considered as a clinical risk group and should be prioritised for vaccination.
Outlining the importance of vaccination, the Department of Health’s Midwifery Officer Dr Dale Spence, said: “The data show that pregnant women are at increased risk of serious consequences from coronavirus and that the majority of pregnant women admitted to hospitals across the UK with severe COVID-19 have been unvaccinated.
“Whilst these new data clearly show that outcomes of COVID-19 for pregnant women and their babies are getting worse, it also shows the very strong protection that receiving a vaccination provides.”
Dr Spence added: “I would encourage you to come forward without delay if you haven’t already been vaccinated, or are due your booster. I want to assure you that the safety of you and your baby is our priority. Vaccination remains vital and is the most effective way that you can help protect yourself and your unborn baby.
“Pregnant women can speak to their midwife, obstetrician or GP about vaccination.”
Vaccination against COVID-19 in pregnancy is strongly recommended by both the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
Commenting, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Director for Northern Ireland, Karen Murray, said: “Having COVID-19 during pregnancy, particularly in the later stages, can have serious consequences for both mothers and their babies. It can double the chance of stillbirth and preterm birth, which can have long term health impact for the baby. Hundreds of thousands of pregnant women worldwide have now been vaccinated and there is a growing body of evidence demonstrating its safety. Because of the increased risk to women and their babies we are pleased pregnant women in Northern Ireland will now be prioritised and encouraged to receive their booster.”
Dr Carolyn Bailie, Chair, Northern Ireland Committee of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “There is clear evidence that shows the COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect pregnant women against the known risks of the virus, including admission to intensive care and prevention of premature birth.
“Pregnant women who have not yet been vaccinated should come forward as soon as possible, please do not wait until after the birth of your baby. Pregnancy puts you at higher risk and that is why it’s so important that you avail of the protection that vaccination provides while you are pregnant.”
Pregnant women of any age can receive their vaccination at a Health and Social Care Trust vaccination hub. Information on vaccination clinics is available on Trust websites.
Pregnant women over the age of 18 can also get their vaccination from participating local pharmacies. Information on pharmacy locations and how to make an appointment is published online: Community Pharmacy Vaccinations - HSCB (hscni.net)
Further information on vaccination in pregnancy is published on www.nidirect.gov.uk/covidvaccine
Notes to editors:
- For further information, including on vaccine safety and the contents of vaccines, see the PHA’s extensive Q&A: COVID-19 Vaccination Programme questions and answers | HSC Public Health Agency
- Vaccination against COVID-19 in pregnancy is recommended by The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists: www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/coronavirus-covid-19-pregnancy-and-womens-health/covid-19-vaccines-and-pregnancy/covid-19-vaccines-pregnancy-and-breastfeeding/
- Advice for pregnant is also available on the Royal College of Midwives website: www.rcm.org.uk/coronavirus-hub/covid-vaccines-for-pregnant-women/
- Guidance and resources for midwives and maternity staff is also available on the RCM website: www.rcm.org.uk/coronavirus-hub/covid-advice-for-healthcare-professionals/
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