People vaccinated against COVID-19 during pregnancy continue to have good birth outcomes, data from the United Kingdom has shown.
Analysis conducted by the UK Health Security Agency showed that between January and August 2021, 355,299 people gave birth in the UK, 24,759 of whom received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose prior to delivery. This adds to several other studies that confirm the safety of the vaccine in pregnancy.
The analysis showed that the rate of stillbirth was very similar for vaccinated and unvaccinated groups. A similar proportion was also seen for babies born with low birthweight. The data showed a small increase in premature births in the vaccinated population, but the team believes that this is due to the slightly different populations eligible for the vaccine – older and more-at-risk people got theirs first, and such groups are in general at higher risk of premature delivery.
“We already know that getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself from serious illness. If you haven’t already been vaccinated, this new information should add to the reassuring safety data," Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at UKHSA, said in a statement.
"Every pregnant woman who has not yet been vaccinated should feel confident to go and get the jab, and that this will help to prevent the serious consequences of catching COVID-19 in pregnancy. This accumulating evidence will also allow midwives and other health professionals to provide better information to pregnant women and help to drive uptake higher.”
The data also shows a concerning disparity in terms of which socio-economic and ethnic groups are getting the vaccine. The study found that just 7.8 percent of women from the more deprived areas of England received a vaccine while pregnant, against the 26.5 percent of the more affluent areas.
People from a white ethnic background were more likely to be vaccinated during pregnancy, at 17.5 percent. This was followed by people of mixed ethnicity (14 percent) and Asian (13.5 percent). Black women were the least likely to be vaccinated at, the time of birth at 5.5 percent.
“Our figures also highlight stark inequalities in uptake with many of the most vulnerable women in our society going unvaccinated. It is vital that women of all backgrounds accept their offer of their vaccine in order to protect themselves,” Dr Ramsay stated.