Sunderland and South Tyneside NHS vaccine chief urges pregnant women to get their Covid jabs

Pregnant women who’ve not taken up their Covid jabs are being urged to do so to provide “vital” protection for both themselves and their unborn babies.

Dr Paul McAndrew, deputy medical director and clinical lead for the vaccination programme at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, made the public appeal as Covid cases across the region are once again on the rise.

Case numbers dropped to a low of around 230 cases per 100,000 during the August holiday but have been rising again in Sunderland since mid-August with a current case rate of 333 cases per 100,00.

Dr McAndrew said: “There’s clear evidence that shows the Covid-19 vaccine is the best way to protect pregnant women from Covid-19 infection.

With Covid cases once again on the rise, pregnant women are being urged to get their Covid vaccines. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA Wire

"If you are a pregnant woman and are called to get your vaccine, it’s absolutely vital that you get it. Vaccines save lives and the Covid-19 jab can keep you and your loved ones safe and out of hospital.

“We’ve always offered pregnant women a number of vaccinations to protect themselves and their unborn children during the course of pregnancy - the Covid-19 vaccine is no different.”

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Initially the vaccine was not offered to pregnant women as more research was carried out, but this advice changed in April when the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised that women should be offered the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Deputy medical director Dr Paul McAndrew said it is "vital" that pregnant women get both their Covid jabs.

A statement on the government website said: “The JCVI has advised that pregnant women should be offered Covid-19 vaccines at the same time as people of the same age or risk group.

"Although the overall risk from Covid-19 disease in pregnant women and their new babies is low, in later pregnancy some women may become seriously unwell and need hospital treatment.

“Pregnant women with Covid-19 have a higher risk of intensive care admission than women of the same age who are not pregnant. Women with Covid-19 disease are also two to three times more likely to have their babies early than women without Covid-19.”

However, despite the change in guidance, research by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) found that by the end of May, 58 per cent of pregnant women who had been offered the vaccine had refused it.

Dr McAndrew added: “Getting the Covid-19 vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from severe illness. If you have questions, I urge you to speak to your midwife, your obstetrician or talk to your GP."

It’s a sentiment shared by the chief midwifery officer for England, Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, who said: “We need everyone to come forward and take up the offer of a jab which is why I’m calling on pregnant women to take action to protect themselves and their babies.”

Gerry Taylor, executive director of Public Health at Sunderland City Council has also urged anyone who is eligible to take up their jabs to reduce the risk of transmission.

She said: “We’d encourage everyone who is eligible to take up the offer of a vaccination as this remains our best form of defence against the virus.

"All of our vaccination clinics are open to anyone age of 16 and over and there are options to book or walk in without an appointment.”

Details of vaccination clinics can be found on the council’s website.

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