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UK vaccine committee urges pregnant women to book jabs
Pregnant women should be regarded as a clinical risk group for covid-19 and be given vaccines quickly, the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said. The expert team advising the government said there was “growing evidence showing that women who are pregnant are at increased risk of serious consequences from covid-19”.
According to new figures published by the UK Health and Security Agency (UKHSA), 34 women have died in the UK after acquiring covid-19 while pregnant. Four newborn babies have also died where medics said the reason was covid-19.
Studies suggest the death rate for pregnant women is usually about nine per 100,000 live births, which equates to roughly 60 pregnant women a year dying from any cause. Up to the end of October this year, there were 27 covid-19 deaths in addition – an almost 50 per cent rise on what would normally be expected for the year, according to analysis by the University of Oxford.
In a snapshot of cases, 1436 pregnant women were admitted to hospital between 16 May and the end of October this year with symptoms of covid-19, of which 230 ended up in intensive care. More than 96 per cent of these women were unvaccinated. Just 16 women in hospital had had two vaccine doses.
“The serious risks posed to women who become infected with covid-19 during pregnancy have become increasingly clear,” Gayatri Amirthalingam from the UKHSA said in a press release. “We know that the vaccines used in the UK covid-19 vaccination programme have been highly effective in preventing serious complications and those recommended for pregnant women have a good safety record. I would urge all pregnant women to come forward and get their vaccine without delay. This is the best way to protect you and your baby.”
Other coronavirus news
Wales will introduce tougher restrictions after Christmas to combat the surge in the omicron coronavirus variant in the UK. The first minister, Mark Drakeford, announced a “two-phase plan” including advice for the Christmas period in addition to new regulations that come into force on 27 December. From this date, nightclubs will be closed, two-metre social distancing will be mandatory in offices, and measures including one-way systems and physical barriers will be introduced in businesses to protect customers and staff. The regulations will also include a requirement to work from home wherever possible. The Welsh government has announced a £60 million fund to support any businesses affected by the restrictions.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that people have the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines in preference to Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, because of rare but sometimes fatal blood clots. So far around 16 million people in the US have had the J&J vaccine, out of 200 million who are fully vaccinated. The CDC has identified more than 50 cases of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, which involves blood clots accompanied by a low level of platelets, in people who had the J&J vaccine, a rate of 3.83 cases per million doses administered. At least nine people have died following these incidents.