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Coronavirus vaccine benefits far outweigh risks

Published: 14 October 2021

We have launched a campaign to encourage pregnant women to get the Coronavirus vaccine.  

Pregnant women appear no more or less likely to contract the virus, but growing evidence shows that pregnant women with coronavirus are at a higher risk of severe illness and hospital admission compared to non-pregnant women with Coronavirus.  

Complications such as pre-eclampsia, pre-term birth and stillbirth are twice as likely in pregnant women with Coronavirus compared to pregnant women who don’t have Coronavirus. Risks increase in the third trimester and for women with underlying health conditions.  

Dr Christopher Johnson, Consultant Epidemiologist and Interim Head of the Vaccine Preventable Disease Programme for Public Health Wales, said: “Vaccines are safe and highly effective in preventing Coronavirus and reducing risks to pregnant women and their babies.  

“In America 160,000 pregnant women have had the Coronavirus vaccine, and here in Wales, Scotland and England 100,000 pregnant women have had the Coronavirus vaccine. No adverse effects on pregnancy have been identified as a result of having the vaccine while pregnant. The NHS monitors the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine in pregnancy and we will continue to do so.  

“There has been a lot of misinformation around the safety of the vaccines in pregnancy. However, research involving more than 40,000 pregnant women shows having the Coronavirus vaccine does not increase the risk of miscarriage, pre-term birth or stillbirth. 

“However, catching Coronavirus while pregnant means you’re twice as likely to develop complications like pre-eclampsia, pre-term birth and stillbirth. Although the risks involved are generally quite low, the science shows it is safer to have the vaccine than not have it.” 

Chief Nursing Officer for Wales, Sue Tranka, said: “I want to reassure expectant mothers that the Coronavirus vaccine is based on science that has been used safely on pregnant women for many years, including vaccines already administered during pregnancy like whooping cough and the flu vaccine. The vaccine used is not a live vaccine, so cannot give you the virus.  

“The Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Royal College of Midwives both recommend vaccination as one of the best defenses against severe infection. 

“We are seeing an increased number of unvaccinated pregnant women in hospital seriously ill with Coronavirus. The vaccine can help protect mums and babies from avoidable harm and can be given at any time during pregnancy. I would encourage people to take the vaccine when offered.” 

The campaign will be delivered mainly through digital advertising and social media. Support for midwives and other health professionals who come into contact with pregnant women is also being provided.  

More information on the Coronavirus vaccine during pregnancy is available in the COVID-19 vaccination and pregnancy section of our website. 

Any pregnant woman who would like to book her vaccine can do so at Get your COVID-19 vaccination | GOV.WALES   

*By analysing linked data from the Maternity Indicators and Welsh Immunisation Systems for 9,866 women who delivered between 16 April 2021 and 31 August 2021, we estimate that 11% (1,056) had received a first dose of Coronavirus vaccine prior to delivering and 5% (483) had received two doses.