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11th Oct 2021

Nearly one fifth of most critically ill Covid patients are unvaccinated pregnant women

Ava Evans

Study shows one in five pregnant women admitted to hospital with Covid symptoms gave birth prematurely 

The NHS is urging expectant mothers to get their jabs, after a study revealed a worrying rise in unvaccinated women being admitted to hospital with severe Covid.

Since July, one in five Covid patients receiving Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) treatment were expectant mothers who had not had their first jab. 

ECMO therapy is used when a patient’s lungs are so damaged by Covid, that a ventilator cannot maintain oxygen levels. 

Since vaccinations began in December 2020, almost every person who has received ECMO for Covid in the UK has been unvaccinated.

According to new data from the University of Oxford, one in ten pregnant women admitted to hospital with Covid symptoms are in intensive care. And one in five pregnant women admitted to hospital with Covid symptoms gave birth prematurely. 

Marian Knight, Professor of Maternal and Child Population Health at the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, and chief investigator of the study, said pregnant women appear to be more severely affected by the Delta variant

Knight tweeted: “More women have died in this wave of infection than either of the previous waves preventable by vaccination.”

He urged pregnant women to maintain social distancing and mask-wearing until they have had their jab.

New data from the UK Obstetric Surveillance System (UKOSS) showed vaccination offered protection from severe Covid infection.

Of 742 women admitted to hospital since 1 February 2021, only four have received a single dose of vaccine and none have received both doses. This means 99% of pregnant women admitted to hospital with symptomatic Covid are unvaccinated. 

The National Childbirth Trust described the data as “a damning indictment of the lack of attention given to this vulnerable group as restrictions have eased”.

The trust said it is understandable that pregnant women have questions and hesitations about vaccinations and called on the government “to ensure dedicated focus on the continued risks to pregnant women as a vulnerable group”.

Mum-t0-be Clare, 33, from Kent is urging pregnant women to take the vaccine after spending nearly a month in hospital with Covid.

At 26-weeks, and only a few days after testing positive for Covid in July, Claire was admitted to hospital in Kent with breathing difficulties. She was then put on a ventilator while in a medically induced coma.

After her condition deteriorated, Clare was transferred to a hospital in London where medics managed to prevent the need for an emergency c-section.

Nearly a month after being admitted to hospital, Clare was allowed to return home in early August. She is currently recovering with her husband and unborn child, who is doing well.

Clare has joined health chiefs in calling on expectant mothers to get vaccinated.

Independent vaccination body, the JCVI, has confirmed the jab is safe and effective for women carrying a baby.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives have both recommended vaccination as one of the best defences for pregnant women against severe COVID-19 infection.

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