England’s chief medical officer has urged all women who are pregnant, or wishing to become pregnant, to get a COVID vaccine as he admitted there was a “major concern” about those not getting jabbed.
Speaking at a Downing Street news conference, Professor Chris Whitty presented “stark” data on the number of pregnant women ending up in hospital with coronavirus.
He described these as “preventable admissions” and highlighted how there had been deaths of unvaccinated pregnant women from coronavirus.
Prof Whitty said the “universal view” among experts was that the benefits of COVID jabs “outweigh the risks in every area”.
“I would just like to give you some fairly stark facts about this because this is a major concern,” Prof Whitty said of pregnant women or those wishing to get pregnant.
“Based on academic data from 1 February through to 30 September… 1,714 pregnant women were admitted to hospital with COVID.
“Of those, 1,681, which is to say 98%, had not been vaccinated. And if you go to those who are very severely ill in intensive care, of 235 women admitted to ICU (intensive care units), 232 of them – over 98% – had not been vaccinated.
“These are preventable admissions to ICU and there have been deaths. All the medical opinion is really clear that the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks in every area.
“This is a universal view among doctors and among the midwife advisory groups and among the scientific advisory groups.
“So can I please encourage all women who are pregnant or wishing to become pregnant to get their vaccination.”
Prof Whitty also urged a greater uptake of flu vaccines this winter, with flu “also very dangerous for women who are pregnant”.
Earlier this month, the husband of a woman who died of COVID-19 without having the chance to meet her newborn baby pleaded with people to get a COVID vaccine.
Majid Ghafur told Sky News: “I’m going to pass this message to the whole world, I just beg all people to get the vaccine.”
He added his wife, Saiqa Parveen, 37, had “planned so many things” and that “this disease didn’t give her a chance”.
Saiqa died after spending five weeks in intensive care. She contracted COVID-19 when she was eight months pregnant with her fifth child.
Her husband said she had been offered a vaccine but had decided to wait to have it until after her baby was born.
In a letter to midwives, obstetricians and GP practices in July, the chief midwife for England, Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, said all healthcare professionals had “a responsibility to proactively encourage pregnant women” to get vaccinated.
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