Most pregnant women in the UK are still shunning Covid vaccines despite an increased chance of stillbirth, premature birth and risks to their own health, analysis shows.
Data from the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford shows 73% of Asian women, 86% of black women and 65% of white women were unvaccinated at the time of giving birth in October 2021.
The charity Wellbeing of Women, which funded the study with the National Institute for Health Research, called for “urgent action” to address “stark racial and social inequalities” among pregnant women, PA Media reported.
The study found that severe Covid infection in pregnant women, particularly in the third trimester, significantly increased the risk of giving birth early, having an induction or a Caesarean, having a stillborn baby or a baby that needed intensive care.
In the UK, an estimated 1.1 million women gave birth between 1 March 2020 and 31 October last year. Overall, 4,436 pregnant women were admitted to hospital with Covid during this period in the UK, of whom 65% had mild disease, 21% had moderate illness and 14% had severe infection.
Some 77% of all the women were in their third trimester of pregnancy. Of the 1,761 women whose vaccination status was recorded in this group (from when vaccines became available), 97% were unvaccinated, 2% had received their first dose, and 1% had received two doses.
During the study period, 22 women died with severe Covid-19 during pregnancy, 59 babies were stillborn and 10 babies died around the time of birth.