Pregnancy - Importance of COVID19 and flu vaccination during pregnancy

NHS information on why it is important for pregnant women to get the covid and flu vaccine
pregnant woman sitting

Whilst thousands of women have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, hundreds of thousands remain unvaccinated. NHS healthcare professionals want to  raise awareness of the vaccine’s benefits among pregnant women, reassure them about any concerns and encourage them to come forward for the vaccines.

The following provides further information, a video from a leading NHS expert and the views of pregnant women who decided to have the vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccination

COVID-19 infection is still circulating and can be serious for pregnant women

• Data shows the overwhelming majority (98%) of pregnant women hospitalised with the virus have not had a jab

• The figures also reveal that no pregnant women with both doses of the vaccine had been admitted to hospital

• It is important to have both doses of your COVID-19 vaccine to protect you and your unborn baby.

• Thousands of pregnant women have been safely vaccinated in the UK.

• Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are the preferred vaccines for pregnant women of any age who are coming for their first dose.

• If a pregnant woman has already had the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for their 1st dose and did not have any serious side effects, they should have it again for their 2nd dose.

• Pregnant women are also more likely to have severe COVID-19 infection if they are overweight or obese.

• Any pregnant women who have questions or concerns about either vaccinations can speak to their GP, midwife or obstetrician to get more information and advice.

You can watch further informational videos from NHS maternity professionals below:

Covid 19 vaccine and breast feeding information

Laura Brunton is expecting her third child in November and has received her first jab. "I initially didn't want the vaccine as I was worried about the effect it could have on my unborn child. However, once I reached the 20- week mark and realised that the virus isn't going away anytime soon, I knew I had to do my own research and make up my own mind. "I realised there was a lot of scaremongering and click-bait out there that was unsubstantiated with facts or research. I was reassured by the advice of health professionals and available research and took the decision to get vaccinated as I knew it would provide the best possible defence for me and my unborn child.

Read more from Laura

Emily is expecting her second child and received her first vaccine at eight weeks pregnant. At 22 weeks pregnant Emily Reed has had both doses of the vaccine.

The 32-year-old from Southampton said: “I was invited to have my first vaccine and I told them that I was pregnant. They passed me over to a nurse for advice who was helpful and told me it was fine to have the Pfizer jab to protect me.

“It is a personal choice but for me it was not worth the risk knowing that COVID could mean that I or my baby could be unwell and need admitting to hospital.

“I was also quite early in my pregnancy and it would have left me vulnerable for a while if I were to have waited to have if after the birth and I know that pregnant women who haven’t been jabbed have been very unwell in hospital.”

Read more from Emily.

Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said:

“It’s really encouraging that so many pregnant women have already come forward to the vaccine – particularly bearing in mind this figure doesn’t include the pregnant health and care workers or those who are clinically extremely vulnerable who would have received at least their first vaccine before 16 April. We’re all very aware of just how widely the virus is still circulating. “That’s why it’s so important for pregnant women to take up the vaccine. We are seeing increasing numbers of pregnant women being admitted to hospital with serious illness, almost all of whom are unvaccinated. Pregnant women are at greater risk of serious illness if they get COVID, and those with severe COVID are twice as likely to experience a stillbirth and three times as likely to have a preterm baby. Getting the vaccine is the best way to keep you and your baby safe. “So often, we mark out pregnancy landmarks in weeks, what size the baby is at 12 weeks or 22. Now we have a new landmark – eight weeks between the first jab and the second. If you have any concerns or any questions, speak to your midwife who will help you make the right decision for you and your baby.”

Read more from NHS Maternity professionals 

Flu vaccination

It isn't too late to get a flu vaccination and it will further protect you and your baby.

• The flu jab will help protect both you and your baby.

• It's safe to have the flu vaccine during any stage of pregnancy, from conception onwards.

• Women who have had the flu vaccine while pregnant also pass some protection on to their babies, which lasts for the first few months of their lives.

• Pregnancy alters how the body handles infections such as fu. Flu infection increases the chances of pregnant women and their babies needing intensive care.

• If you have flu while you're pregnant, it could cause your baby to be born prematurely or have a low birthweight and may even lead to stillbirth or death.

• The best time to have a flu vaccine is in the autumn, before flu starts circulating. If you've missed this time, you can have the flu vaccine later in the winter although it's best to get it earlier. Do not worry if you find that you're pregnant later in the flu season – you can have the vaccine then if you have not already had it

Read more about the flu vaccine in pregnancy and where you can get it

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