The NHS in Sussex is urging everyone who is pregnant to make sure they receive their COVID-19 vaccination this autumn.
It comes as new data has revealed that nearly 20% of the most critically ill Covid patients are pregnant people who have not been vaccinated.
Jenny Hughes said: “Vaccines save lives, and this is another stark reminder that the Covid-19 jab can keep you, your baby and your loved ones, safe and out of hospital.
“I’d like to reassure pregnant women that the Covid-19 vaccines are considered safe at any time during pregnancy, but the risks that unvaccinated pregnant women face of becoming severely unwell if they catch Covid-19 show exactly why we advise you to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”
Double-jabbed mother of two, Sarah-Jane Robertson, who gave birth to a healthy baby girl a few weeks ago, said: “I can understand why some people who are pregnant are perhaps reluctant to get jabbed, as this is how I felt right at the beginning of my pregnancy, mainly due to lots of misinformation I was hearing and reading at the time.
“However, it wasn’t until I went away and did my own research, spoke to my Dr and a friend abroad, who is a specialist in this field and told me I was insane not to get the jab, that I began to change my mind.
“What really pushed me to signing up for my vaccination was when a pupil at a school I teach at had both parents catch the Delta variant and were in ICU for over a month. I remember thinking at that time that I have a three-year-old and the reality of how severe this virus was and how it affected the young children in this family, really hit home.”
Sarah went onto having both her Covid-19 vaccinations and other than experiencing a sore arm for a short period, she reported feeling absolutely fine. “Having the vaccines also helped my mental health as I felt more confident to go out and do things I would have avoided had I not had them,” she said.
Reflecting on the arrival of her baby girl, Sarah said: “She is perfect and displays no sign of harm from me getting double jabbed.”
Since July, one in five Covid patients receiving treatment through a special lung-bypass machine were those who were expecting who have not had their first jab.
They have been treated with a therapy, called Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), used only when a patient’s lungs are so damaged by Covid that a ventilator cannot maintain oxygen levels.
Out of all women between the ages of 16 and 49 on ECMO in intensive care, pregnant women make up almost a third (32 per cent) – up from just 6 per cent at the start of the pandemic, March 2020.
Since vaccinations began in December 2020, almost every person who has received ECMO for Covid in the UK has been unvaccinated, NHS data shows.
Data from Public Health England showed that over 81,000 pregnant women have received the first dose of the life-saving Covid jab, and around 65,000 have received their second dose.
Covid vaccination in pregnancy is considered safe and is recommended by the Royal College of Obstetricians, Royal College of Midwives and the UK Tetralogy Service.
Data from over 100,000 Covid vaccinations in pregnancy in England and Scotland, and a further 160,000 in the US, show there has been no subsequent harm to the foetus or infant.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Royal College of Midwives have both recommended vaccination as one of the best defences for people who are pregnant against severe Covid-19 infection, while the independent JCVI confirms the jab has been shown to be effective and safe for those carrying a baby.
People are encouraged to speak to their GP or midwife if they have questions about getting the jab.