Covid Scotland: 'No adverse effects' as almost 4,000 pregnant women get Covid vaccine

Almost 4,000 pregnant women have taken up a Covid vaccine in Scotland, with no adverse effects reported, according to figures published for the first time by Edinburgh University and Public Health Scotland (PHS).

Some 3,698 pregnant women received a vaccine between December last year and the end of May 2021, with a total of 4,090 doses given.

Significant take-up has been welcomed by medical colleges, who encouraged any pregnant women who have not yet had a vaccine to get one.

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The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) said pregnant women taking up jags can help to protect their newborns, as there is less chance of the mother catching Covid and passing it on to her baby.

Just over 3,000 pregnant women have had a vaccine in Scotland.
Just over 3,000 pregnant women have had a vaccine in Scotland.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said vaccination could protect women from a slightly increased risk of stillbirth, and potentially pass protective antibodies to the newborn as well.

It comes as new data revealed 41 people have died of Covid despite receiving both vaccine doses – about 0.001 per cent of those who have done so.

Two thirds of adults in Scotland have now been given both doses, some 2,900,000 people.

And National Records of Scotland (NRS) recorded 30 new deaths with Covid mentioned on the death certificate last week.

City-dwellers are almost four times as likely to die of Covid, the body said, with Glasgow, Renfrewshire, West Dunbartonshire and North Lanarkshire the worst affected.

Vaccine take-up in pregnant women has been published for the first time after a joint study by Edinburgh University and PHS, called Covid-19 in Pregnancy in Scotland (COPS).

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Dr Edward Morris, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “We have seen that pregnant women who do catch Covid-19 are at risk of becoming severely ill, particularly in their third trimester, and there is an increased risk of preterm birth and stillbirth, although numbers remain low.

"Once vaccinated, the woman will also pass antibodies to her baby, which may help to protect their newborn from Covid-19.

“We know many women are still nervous about having the vaccine. However, we want to reassure them that robust data from the US where more than 120,000 people have had the vaccine in pregnancy have raised no safety concerns.”

Dr Mary Ross-Davie, director for professional midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “Catching the disease, especially later in pregnancy, can potentially have serious effects. That is why we are urging pregnant women to get the vaccine, because it will help to protect you, your baby and your family.”

Pregnant women are now advised to take up a vaccine by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), following an initial delay.

Vaccination in pregnant women markedly increased in May, PHS said, which was likely to be due to the vaccine rollout reaching younger age groups.

Dr Rachael Wood, consultant at Public Health Scotland and COPS co-lead, said: “In line with advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), women who are pregnant in Scotland are being invited to receive their Covid-19 vaccines at the same time as other women within their priority group.

“The data published today shows that over 4,000 Covid-19 vaccinations have already been given to pregnant women in Scotland, at all stages of their pregnancy. It is encouraging to note that to date no serious pregnancy-related adverse events following vaccination have been reported to Public Health Scotland.

“These results are incredibly important as the vaccination programme continues, with younger women of reproductive age now being invited for vaccination.”

Dr Sarah Stock, consultant and reader in maternal and fetal medicine at the University of Edinburgh and COPS co-lead, said: “We know that complications from Covid-19 while pregnant can be serious for both women and babies. For example, Covid-19 increases the risk of early birth.

“It is understandable that pregnant women may be anxious about getting the Covid-19 vaccine, but I hope that the results shared today reassure women who are seeking to make informed choices for themselves and their babies.

"It should also give confidence to midwives, doctors, vaccinators and others who are in a position to support them in their decision.”

The NRS recorded 30 new deaths where Covid was mentioned on the death certificate in the week to July 11.

The body also recorded that adjusting for age, those in large urban areas are 3.7 times as likely to die of Covid than people in remote rural areas.

Since March last year, 15 per cent of deaths have been registered in Glasgow City, while 8 per cent have been recorded in each of Edinburgh, North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire.

Pete Whitehouse, NRS director of statistical services, also noted that death rates had been significantly higher in men.

He said: “Five of the Covid-related deaths last week were aged under 65, four were aged 65-74 and there were 21 deaths amongst people aged 75 or over. Nine were female and 21 were male.

“After adjusting for age, Covid-related death rates for males are significantly higher than for females. In the period from March 2020 to June 2021, Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificates of 176 males per 100,000 population compared to 121 females per 100,000.”

The latest report from Public Health Scotland showed that over the four weeks from June 12 to July 9, almost two thirds (64.7 per cent) of people who had a positive PCR test were unvaccinated.

Meanwhile just over half (51.6 per cent) of Covid-19 hospital admissions over the same four-week period were amongst unvaccinated individuals, with 70.6 per cent of this group being aged under 40.

In the week ending July 6 there were a total of 475 people admitted to hospital who had tested positive for Covid.

There have been no further deaths following adverse effects of a Covid vaccine.

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