Rebekah Calladine is Peppy’s Director of Perinatal Services and a registered midwife. She’s here to help you make up your mind about the Covid vaccine.
When the guidelines keep changing, as they have this year, it’s hard to make a decision you feel totally confident in about the Covid vaccine.
In April, the advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JVCI) changed to say that all pregnant women should be offered the Covid-19 vaccination.
Before that, the JCVI’s advice was that pregnant women should consider having the Covid vaccine.
At Peppy, we understand your priorities, especially when you’re pregnant, when it comes to making decisions about your health. You want clear, consistent advice that you can rely on.
Let’s have a look at some of your biggest concerns.
1. How do you know for sure that the vaccine is safe?
It’s reassuring to know that researchers in the USA looked at data from 160,000 pregnant women who had the jab and found no cause for concern. When the UK Health Security Agency (formerly known as Public Health England) monitored 82,000 pregnant women in the UK who’d also had the Covid vaccine, they found the same thing. No serious adverse effects were recorded in either group – a combined number of over 240,000 women.
2. Could the vaccine cause miscarriage or stillbirth?
There is no research to suggest that any of the COVID-19 vaccines used in the UK increase the risk of miscarriage or stillbirth. The Royal College of Midwives points to six studies, done worldwide. These the showed the rate of miscarriage was the same in those women who had the Covid-19 jab as the general population. In other words, having the jab didn’t make a difference.
3. When during pregnancy should you get vaccinated?
You can get the jab at any time during pregnancy. There is no need to wait until after 12 weeks.
4. Which vaccine is recommended for pregnant women?
The JCVI recommends the Pfzier or Moderna jabs, because these vaccines have been given to over 148,000 pregnant women in America with no safety concerns. However, if you have already had one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, it’s recommended you continue with that for your second dose. This is important for longer lasting protection. Very rarely, the AstraZeneca jab has been associated with blood clots, which is why the Pfizer or Moderna vaccinations are recommended first.
Here’s why I think having the Covid vaccine is a good idea.
- The Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists also recommend having the jab in pregnancy.
- When you’re pregnant, your immune system is naturally lower. This is so that your body doesn’t reject or attack the cells of your growing baby. It means you’re more susceptible to catching Covid-19 to begin with.
- In mid-to-late pregnancy, your lung capacity is reduced due to your growing baby. This means that respiratory viruses such as coronavirus are more difficult for your body to shake off than when you’re not pregnant.
- Treatment options in pregnancy are also more limited than for the wider (non-pregnant) population. It’s more difficult to treat, should you end up with complications.
- Ppregnant women accounted for almost a third of women aged 16 to 49 who needed extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). This is a medical technique that helps pump oxygen into the body. It’s used when a person’s lungs are so damaged that normal ventilators aren’t strong enough.
Pregnant women and Covid
The demands of your unborn baby during pregnancy means your body is already working overtime. It’s growing a new human being, as well as maintaining all your normal systems. This means that a disease like Covid – which attacks the respiratory system – can be much more serious in pregnant women.
In the last few weeks on the front line, we’ve seen many more women coming through the hospital doors with Covid than at any other point in the pandemic. 90 % of these women have not been vaccinated.
As winter flu season approaches, the number of admissions of women with acute respiratory symptoms/disease are expected to rise significantly.
Flu poses its own challenges during pregnancy and can also make you very poorly.
Our advice is that if you are pregnant and unvaccinated against Covid, to get the jab as soon as possible. You’ll be better protected and so will your baby, as you’re passing on what’s known as ‘passive’ immunity via the placenta.