Data from the UK’s Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has revealed that COVID-19 vaccines are safe in pregnancy.

The data revealed evidence of high levels of protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnant women after COVID-19 vaccination and evidence that vaccination induces higher antibody levels than after disease.

Previous data suggests that the risk of stillbirth is heightened if a woman has COVID-19 in pregnancy. Studies have shown that about one in five women admitted to hospital with the virus have their babies delivered early and some of these babies need special intensive care, highlighting the importance of getting vaccinated.

The UKHSA study found that, between February and September 2021, 0.4% of 1,714 pregnant women with COVID-19 symptoms who required hospital treatment in the UK had received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Of the 235 pregnant women who were admitted to intensive care with the virus during that period, none had received both doses of their vaccine.

Vaccinated and unvaccinated women who gave birth between January and August 2021 were found to have a similar risk of stillbirth (3.35 per 1,000 vaccinated women, and 3.6 per 1,000 unvaccinated women). Both groups also had similar proportions of low and very low birth weight babies (5.28% among vaccinated women and 5.36% among unvaccinated women).

Complications linked to COVID-19 in pregnancy (critical care admission and perinatal deaths) in Scotland were found to be far more common in the unvaccinated than in vaccinated pregnant women. There have been no published studies to date that have found safety concerns relating to COVID-19 vaccination of pregnant women.

The UKHSA immunisation head said ‘Every pregnant woman who has not yet been vaccinated should feel confident to go and get the jab and that this will help to prevent the serious consequences of catching COVID-19 in pregnancy.’