Pregnant women are being given dangerously mixed messaging from health professionals, with figures suggesting a “very high” vaccine hesitancy among the vulnerable group, according to campaigners.
Three-quarters of pregnant women in the UK feel anxious about the easing of coronavirus restrictions with many saying the move is like “another lockdown” for expectant mothers, according to a survey of about 9,000 pregnant women by campaigning group.
Its founder, Joeli Brearley, who will give evidence on the impact of Covid-19 on new parents to the parliamentary petitions select committee on Wednesday, said pregnant women were the only vulnerable group not to have been prioritised for the vaccine, and misinformation had “spread like wildfire” with many women refusing to be vaccinated as a result. The survey found that 40% have not had a single dose and only 21% have had two doses.
“The idea of ‘freedom day’ is a complete nonsense for hundreds of thousands of pregnant women,” said Brearley. “As people cast off their masks in wild abandon, the majority of pregnant women are being forced into a lockdown of their own.”
The group said it had been inundated with stories of negative messaging given to pregnant women from healthcare professionals.
Writing on the group’s Twitter page, a social media consultant, Jen Thorne, said she was shocked when a midwife said to her: “Probably don’t want to risk another thalidomide situation by having the vaccine.”
Another women, Ceri Williams, said she was 30 weeks pregnant and had got her second jab but she had to “fight for it”.
“Support from midwife and healthcare professionals has been awful,” she wrote. “I was asked repeatedly yesterday at the vaccination centre if I was sure about going ahead – I felt judged and it was very upsetting.”
Elizabeth Crompton wrote: “I was asked if I was sure I wanted to take the risk by the GP employed specifically by the vaccine hub to consent pregnant women. He asked if I wouldn’t rather wait until I had the baby.”
, UK studies suggest pregnant women are no more likely to catch Covid than other groups but while the majority who do get the virus have few or no symptoms they may be at increased risk of having severe disease.
Pregnant women who did get symptomatic Covid-19 infection were two to three times more likely to give birth to their baby prematurely, said the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
“It is high time pregnant women’s needs are considered and prioritised by the government before more tragedies occur,” said Brearley, who called for the government to prioritise pregnant women for the vaccine and promote clear information.
In April pregnant women were advised by the JCVI to have the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines where possible, after data from the US showed aboutwithout any safety concerns.
A month later the government said it would amend the system to allow pregnant women to choose their vaccine,.