Pregnant women will be prioritised for COVID-19 vaccinations, JCVI announces

on 16 December 2021

Pregnant women are now being prioritised when they book their COVID-19 vaccinations, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) have announced.

Evidence has shown pregnant women are at risk at becoming severely ill with COVID-19, especially during their third trimester. Pregnant women have now been added to the list of clinically vulnerable groups and will be given priority to receive their vaccinations.

The decision has been welcomed by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and are now calling on pregnant women to be fast tracked to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations.

RCM CEO, Gill Walton, said: “Today’s announcement is good news. The RCM together with the RCOG and other organisations have been calling for pregnant women to be prioritised in the vaccination and booster programme. What is crucial now is that women are able to access vaccination hubs or clinics close to where they are receiving their maternity care. We are aware of reports of pregnant women waiting for hours in queues at walk-in centres or even when they have appointments, and this is unacceptable. 

“Providing clinics in or very near antenatal clinics, staffed by vaccination teams, is a great way to encourage uptake and will also ensure that midwives, already in short supply, aren’t taken away from their core work. It’s also vital that all vaccinators and vaccination centres are not only aware that pregnant women are recommended to be vaccinated and have the booster and pregnancy but are trained in supporting them through the process too.

“We know that the best way to protect pregnant women and their babies from COVID is through vaccination. That’s why the Government must take immediate action on the recommendations we have laid out with the RCOG to ensure that there are no barriers for women in accessing the vaccine.”

The JCVI recommendations now include:

  • The Government should ensure there are no barriers of access to the vaccine, and should consider ways in which the current system can prioritise pregnant women
  • A set time-bound target to rapidly increase the uptake of the vaccine in pregnant women, which should match the uptake of the general population
  • A target should be set to reduce and eliminate the disparities in the uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine in pregnancy by ethnic group and socioeconomic status.