Pregnant women should be given the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as the rest of the population, based on their age and clinical risk group, according to the JCVI.
In relation to pregnancy, no particular safety issues have been found with any brand of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. According to real-world data from the United States, about 90,000 pregnant women have been vaccinated, mostly with mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, with no safety issues posed.
Based on this information, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) recommends that pregnant women in the United Kingdom be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines if they are accessible. Other vaccines have not been shown to be harmful to pregnant women, although further research is required.
Pregnant women should also address the dangers and benefits of vaccination with their clinician, including the current information on protection and which vaccines they should obtain, according to the recommendation, which was released in Public Health England’s Green Book, a clinical professional guide for vaccinators in the UK.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, JCVI’s COVID-19 Chair, stated:
“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 is 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.”
All vaccines used in the United Kingdom have undergone extensive clinical trials and have met the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) stringent safety, efficacy, and consistency requirements.
Public Health England’s (PHE) Head of Immunisation, Dr Mary Ramsay, said:
“The available data on the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines provides 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.”
Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), stated:
“We are grateful to the JCVI for taking into consideration our evidence and updating the guidance around the COVID-19 vaccine in pregnancy.
“Vaccination offers pregnant women the best protection from COVID-19, which can be serious in some women.
“We believe it should be a woman’s choice whether to have the vaccine or not after considering the benefits and risks and would encourage pregnant women to discuss with a trusted source like their GP, obstetrician or midwife, or a healthcare professional in a vaccination centre.
“This move will empower all the pregnant women in the UK to make the decision that is right for them, at the same time that the non-pregnant population in their age group receive protection from COVID-19.”
Vaccines are effective in shielding people from COVID-19-related serious illness, according to research. Though rare, serious COVID-19 illness is more likely later in pregnancy. Pregnant women who develop symptoms of COVID-19 infection are two to three times more likely to give birth prematurely.
Since age is the greatest risk factor for serious COVID-19 outcomes, pregnant women should be invited to be vaccinated by their age or clinical risk category. Depending on their age and clinical risk group, women who are considering a pregnancy, are postpartum, or are breastfeeding may be vaccinated with either vaccine.
The JCVI will continue to closely monitor the evidence on COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy and will update its advice as required.
The COVID-19 vaccination programme has been a huge success, with recent PHE analysis showing the vaccines have prevented 10,400 deaths in those aged 60 and older in England up to the end of March.
The JCVI advised last week that, as a precaution, it is preferable for people under the age of 30 with no underlying health conditions to be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine where possible.