Pregnant women are to be offered a vaccination to protect them from COVID-19, following the latest advice from the UK Government's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
The JCVI says pregnant women should be offered the vaccine at the same time as the rest of the population, based on their age and clinical risk. Until now, vaccination during pregnancy has been offered to women at high risk of coronavirus infection, or those with clinical conditions which put them at high risk of serious complications should they suffer COVID-19.
In updating its advice, the JCVI has taken into consideration evidence provided by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and both bodies are encouraging pregnant women to make an informed choice, after speaking to their GP, obstetrician or midwife.
Here, pregnant women are encouraged to discuss the COVID vaccination with their community midwife or to contact the maternity unit on 650030 if they have any questions about the vaccine. The latest guidance from the RCOG has been circulated to midwives, obstetricians and GP practices and will be made available to women via the antenatal clinics in the community and at Noble's.
Data shows that vaccines are effective in preventing serious illness caused by COVID-19, and there have been no safety concerns relating to pregnancy associated with any of the COVID-19 vaccines currently authorised for use. The Isle of Man vaccination programme is following JCVI advice and accordingly is preparing to offer vaccines routinely to all pregnant women.
Minister for Health and Social Care David Ashford said:
'The JCVI recognised from the start that the potential benefits of vaccination were particularly important for some pregnant women. There is now extensive real-world experience of the use of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in the USA on pregnant women without any safety concerns being raised. The JCVI advises that it is preferable for pregnant women in the UK to be offered those vaccines where available, though there is no evidence to suggest that other vaccines are unsafe for pregnant women.'
'We have carefully considered the new advice and are taking steps to extend our programme in line with the UK's so that a vaccine is offered to pregnant women at the same time as everyone else in their age band or clinical risk group. Vaccines are saving thousands of lives and so it is important as many people as possible take up the offer when it is their turn.'
Programme managers are currently completing the formalities required to meet the updated advice, and vaccination will be offered at the earliest opportunity and in line with vaccine supplies to the Island. Women who decide to have a vaccination are asked to phone 111 to register, and advise the team during the call that they are pregnant so that appropriate bookings can be made.