UK says pregnant women should receive Covid vaccinations

Change in advice was made after assessing data from 90,000 pregnant women in the US

A medical worker prepares a syringe with a dose of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine during a visit of U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris to a vaccination center in Chinatown, in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., April 6, 2021. Picture taken April 6, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
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Pregnant women in Britain should be offered the coronavirus vaccine, according to new advice from the UK government.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation now says pregnant women can receive the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines where available, alongside other people in their age group.

Previously, pregnant women were advised against receiving vaccinations because of the lack of data on the possible side effects.

The committee updated its advice after data showed about 90,000 pregnant women in the US had received shots, mainly the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, “without any safety concerns being raised”.

“Women who are planning pregnancy, are in the immediate post-partum or are breastfeeding can be vaccinated with any vaccine, depending on their age and clinical risk group,” the committee said.

There remains a lack of data on the effects and risks of the AstraZeneca vaccine in pregnancy because pregnant women were not included in its trials, the committee said.

Until now, only pregnant women with underlying conditions or health risks were eligible for inoculation.

“We encourage pregnant women to discuss the risks and benefits with their clinician – those at increased risk of severe outcomes from Covid-19 are encouraged to promptly take up the offer of vaccination when offered,” said Prof Wei Shen Lim, who serves on the committee.

Obstetricians say women can be immunised at any stage of pregnancy.

“Vaccination offers pregnant women the best protection from Covid-19, which can be serious in some women,” said Dr Edward Morris, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

“We believe it should be a woman’s choice whether to have the vaccine or not after considering the benefits and risks and [we] would encourage pregnant women to discuss with a trusted source like their obstetrician or midwife, or a healthcare professional in a vaccination centre.”