Pregnant women should be offered the Covid-19 jab at the same time as the rest of the population, the UK’s vaccine advisers have said.
New advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said there were “no specific safety concerns” identified with “any brand of Covid-19 vaccines” in relation to pregnancy.
Until now, pregnant women have been advised to discuss having a vaccine with their GP if they are at high risk of exposure to the virus or if they have underlying health conditions.
Data from the US showed around 90,000 pregnant women had received jabs – mainly the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines – “without any safety concerns being raised”.
The JCVI said it is “preferable” for pregnant women in the UK to be offered these two vaccines where available.
It added: “There is no evidence to suggest that other vaccines are unsafe for pregnant women, but more research is needed.”
Women who are trying for a baby, have just given birth or are breast feeding can be vaccinated using any vaccine, the advice states.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, Covid-19 chair for JCVI, said: “We encourage pregnant women to discuss the risks and benefits with their clinician – those at increased risk of severe outcomes from Covid-19 are encouraged to promptly take up the offer of vaccination when offered.
“There have been no specific safety concerns from any brand of Covid-19 vaccines in relation to pregnancy.
“There are more real-world safety data from the US in relation to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines in women who are pregnant – therefore, we advise a preference for these to be offered to pregnant women.”
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England (PHE), said: “The available data on the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines provide confidence that they can be offered safely to pregnant women.
“The Covid-19 vaccines continue to save thousands of lives and it is important that we encourage as many people as possible to take up the offer when it is their turn.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock urged all pregnant women to talk to their GP about getting the jab when it is their turn.
“We know vaccination offers the best protection from COVID-19, which can be extremely serious in some pregnant women,” he said.
“I encourage all pregnant women when they are called to get the jab to come forward & discuss the benefits & risks of the vaccine with a trusted source like their GP, obstetrician or midwife.”