Pregnant women urged to get vaccine as data shows they make up fifth of severe Covid cases

11 October 2021, 00:01

Pregnant women now make up 17 per cent of the most critically ill patients with Covid-19
Pregnant women now make up 17 per cent of the most critically ill patients with Covid-19. Picture: Alamy

By Elizabeth Haigh

Pregnant women are being urged to get vaccinated against coronavirus as data shows they make up almost a fifth of the most critically ill patients in England.

NHS England has revealed 17 per cent of patients receiving treatment through a lung-bypass machine were expectant mothers from 1 July to September 30, meaning they account for almost a fifth of the most critically ill patients.

They also found pregnant women made up 32 per cent of all women on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) in intensive care, up from 6 per cent in March 2020.

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ECMO is for patients in acute or severe respiratory failure and is only provided by five centres in England.

It is described by the Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire as the "last hope" for patients with severe Covid-19.

Claire Bromley, 33, is a mother-to-be who spent almost a month in hospital with coronavirus having not received the vaccine.

She said: "I completely understand the hesitation not to get vaccinated when you are growing a child inside you, and, after experiencing two miscarriages before the pandemic, the fear of being pregnant again with the worry of Covid was sending my anxiety through the roof.

"But, after what happened, I can honestly say that the risk of not having the Covid vaccine far outweighs any doubts about having it."

Admitted to her local hospital in Kent, Mrs Bromley was transferred to a hospital in London and put on a ventilator in a medically induced coma after her situation deteriorated.

Medics thought they would have to perform an emergency C-section just 26 weeks into her pregnancy, but her condition improved and she was allowed home in early August.

She is recovering at home with her husband and their unborn child, who is doing well.

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NHS England said there have been more than 100,000 Covid vaccinations in pregnant women in England and Scotland and these have shown no harm to the foetus or baby after birth.

England's chief midwife, Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, said the data is "another stark reminder that the Covid-19 jab can keep you, your baby and your loved ones safe and out of hospital".

Dr Edward Morris, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said medics understand women's concerns but want to offer reassurance that the vaccine is safe.

He said: "We are urgently calling for all pregnant women to come forward for their vaccinations.

"There is robust evidence showing that the vaccine is the most effective way to protect both mother and baby against the possibility of severe illness from Covid-19.

"The disproportionate number of unvaccinated pregnant women in intensive care demonstrates that there is a significant risk of severe illness from Covid-19 in pregnancy.

"We do understand women's concerns about having the vaccine in pregnancy, and we want to reassure women that there is no link between having the vaccine and an increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth, or stillbirth."

Health Secretary Sajid Javid added his voice to calls encouraging pregnant women to have the jab, saying the latest figures on those in hospital are "desperately sad" and that vaccines will give "significant protection".