Amidst the approaching autumn of 2023, prominent Maternity Colleges rally for a critical cause: the promotion of influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations among pregnant women. This unified plea, jointly presented by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), is aimed at fortifying the health of mothers and their unborn offspring.
Notably, these vaccinations are offered free of charge and can be scheduled starting from Monday, 18th September.
Pregnant women find themselves at the forefront of prioritization for the upcoming COVID-19 booster shots, primarily due to their heightened susceptibility to severe illness. The repercussions of a severe COVID-19 infection in the latter stages of pregnancy extend to the welfare of the unborn child, including an escalated likelihood of preterm birth.
Alarming statistics from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) in 2021 reveal that the overwhelming majority of pregnant individuals admitted to intensive care with COVID-19 had not availed themselves of vaccination.
The specter of contracting influenza also looms perilously for a select group of pregnant women and their unborn progeny. It places them in a precarious position, with increased vulnerability to complications such as bronchitis—an affliction that can potentially escalate into pneumonia.
In rare instances, an encounter with the influenza virus during pregnancy may culminate in stillbirth, maternal fatality, and a heightened risk of miscarriage.
Dr. Ranee Thakar, who holds the esteemed position of President at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), emphatically stated:
“Our impassioned plea extends to every expectant mother: avail yourself of the complimentary COVID-19 and influenza vaccinations. By doing so, you’re affording yourself and your unborn child the most formidable protection available this impending winter season.
“Pregnant women find themselves in a more vulnerable position when it comes to COVID-19 and influenza infections. It’s imperative to acknowledge that pregnancy amplifies the likelihood of severe illness necessitating hospitalization, distinguishing it from the experience of non-pregnant individuals.
Furthermore, it provides an impervious shield, guarding both the mother and the developing fetus from the perils of severe COVID-19 and influenza infections.”
Gill Walton, the distinguished Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), concurred:
“Every mother aspires to safeguard her unborn child during the precious time of pregnancy, and one of the most efficacious methods to achieve this is through vaccination. The perils posed by COVID-19 and influenza are not limited to expectant mothers alone; they extend to encompass the well-being of the infant as well. The COVID-19 and influenza vaccines stand as the safest and most effective means to safeguard both you and your precious child. Engage in a dialogue with your midwife concerning the acquisition of these vaccinations, which are not only accessible but also complimentary.”
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has issued advisory counsel to expedite the COVID-19 vaccination program as a precautionary measure in response to the emergence of a novel COVID variant, designated as BA2.86, within the United Kingdom’s borders. Commencing on Monday, 18th September, every pregnant woman qualifies for a complimentary influenza vaccine and the autumnal COVID-19 booster.
Furthermore, it’s pertinent to highlight that healthcare professionals at the vanguard of patient care, including those dedicated to maternity services, are also entitled to receive complimentary influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations.