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Did bad vaccine advice cost Samantha Willis her life?

When the UK’s jab programme began, expectant mothers were told to steer clear – so Samantha decided to wait until she had had her baby. Two weeks after giving birth, she died in hospital from Covid.

Samantha was unvaccinated – she had received advice against getting jabbed at an antenatal appointment.

When the Covid vaccine programme began in the UK on 8 December 2020, pregnant women were told not to get vaccinated. 

But in October 2020, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) published guidance warning that “intensive care admission may be more common in pregnant women with Covid-19 than in non-pregnant women of the same age” and that pregnant women with Covid were three times more likely to have a preterm birth.

Further evidence emerged in 2021 indicating that pregnant women were particularly vulnerable to Covid, especially in their final trimester. Research from the University of Washington, published in January, found that pregnant women were 13 times more likely to die from Covid than people of a similar age who were not pregnant.

But throughout February and March, the JCVI’s scientists did not appear especially concerned about examining the case for vaccinating pregnant women. Priority in the early stages of the vaccine programme was being given to older people, so many pregnant women remained towards the back of the queue.

The maternity campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed said: “If you look at who was on the Covid war cabinet and leading the daily briefing, it was nearly all men,” says Joeli Brearley, its founder. “Pregnant women were treated as if they were very similar to the general population, rather than being seen as a special cohort that needs special consideration. They were just not a priority.”

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Source: The Guardian, 23 November 2021

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Covid vaccines safe in pregnancy, data shows

The UK's Health Security Agency says its analysis of English data shows Covid vaccines are safe in pregnancy, reinforcing international evidence.

The agency found similar rates of stillbirths and preterm births for vaccinated and unvaccinated mothers.

Researchers say women should feel confident the jabs will help protect them and urge more to take them.

Their report shows just 22% of women who gave birth in August had had at least one jab.

Since mid-April, mothers-to-be have been offered the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna jab, with the second dose recommended eight weeks after the first. But women first eligible for vaccination were more likely to be older or have an underlying medical condition - putting them at higher risk of premature births, researchers say.

Meanwhile, studies suggest 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. And evidence suggests the risks of stillbirths are higher if a woman has Covid in pregnancy.

UKHSA immunisation head said the new information on safety was reassuring.

"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 in pregnancy," she said.

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Source: BBC News, 26 November 2021

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