Pregnant women should be offered Covid-19 vaccine, experts say

16 April 2021, 17:27 | Updated: 16 April 2021, 18:10

 JCVI said there is no evidence that current vaccines are unsafe for pregnant women
JCVI said there is no evidence that current vaccines are unsafe for pregnant women. Picture: PA

By Harriet Whitehead

Pregnant women should be offered a Covid-19 jab at the same time as the rest of the population based on their age and clinical risk group, according to new advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

The JCVI said there were "no specific safety concerns" identified with "any brand of Covid-19 vaccines" in relation to pregnancy.

It pointed to data from the US which shows around 90,000 pregnant women had received jabs, mainly the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, "without any safety concerns being raised".

Therefore, the JCVI said it is "preferable" for pregnant women in the UK to be offered these two vaccines where available.

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People aged over 45 can now book their Covid-19 jab in England.

The NHS has previously been focused on ensuring vaccines are offered to those considered most vulnerable to coronavirus - those aged over 50, people deemed to be "clinically extremely vulnerable" and health and social care workers.

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The JCVI said: "There is no evidence to suggest that other vaccines are unsafe for pregnant women, but more research is needed."

Professor Wei Shen Lim, Covid-19 chair for JCVI, said: "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.

"There have been no specific safety concerns from any brand of Covid-19 vaccines in relation to pregnancy.

"There are more real-world safety data from the US in relation to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines in women who are pregnant - therefore, we advise a preference for these to be offered to pregnant women."

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Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England (PHE), said: "The available data on the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines provide confidence that they can be offered safely to pregnant women.

"The Covid-19 vaccines continue to save thousands of lives and it is important that we encourage as many people as possible to take up the offer when it is their turn."

This comes as the first cases of a "doubly-mutated" Covid-19 variant have been discovered in the UK.

Public Health England reported that 73 cases of a variant named B.1.617, originally detected in India, have been confirmed in England as well as four cases in Scotland.

The figures come from the latest update of PHE's surveillance of the distribution of different variants across the UK, based on data up to April 7.

Officials have designated it a variant under investigation and some scientists have said it is a cause for concern as it could be "less controlled by vaccine." The variant carries two different mutations, E484Q and L452R.