Critically Ill COVID-19 Patients: Nearly 1 in 5 Are Unvaccinated Pregnant Women 

Nicky Broyd

October 11, 2021

NHS England has renewed its message to pregnant women to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as it released data on pregnancy risks.

Nearly 1 in 5 COVID-19 patients who are most critically ill are pregnant women who have not been vaccinated.

Thirty-two percent of women aged 16 to 49 on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) in intensive care were pregnant. At the start of the pandemic the figure was 6%.

'Robust Evidence'

Dr Edward Morris, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: "We are urgently calling for all pregnant women to come forward for their vaccinations. There is robust evidence showing that the vaccine is the most effective way to protect both mother and baby against the possibility of severe illness from COVID-19. The disproportionate number of unvaccinated pregnant women in intensive care demonstrates that there is a significant risk of severe illness from COVID-19 in pregnancy.

"We do understand women's concerns about having the vaccine in pregnancy, and we want to reassure women that there is no link between having the vaccine and an increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth, or stillbirth."

Sarah McMullen, director of impact and engagement, NCT, commented: "In July, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and Royal College of Midwives described COVID-19 unlocking as creating the ‘perfect storm’ for pregnant women. The news that unvaccinated pregnant women now make up nearly 20% of England’s most critically ill COVID patients is a damning indictment of the lack of attention given to this vulnerable group as restrictions have eased."

Flu & COVID 'Twindemic'

At the weekend, Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) warned of a possible 'multi-strain' flu season combining with COVID-19 for a so-called winter 'twindemic'.

She told Sky News: "We should be worried about flu each winter. I think people still don't realise it can be a fatal disease. Recent studies suggest that about 25% of us don't actually understand that. On average, over the last 5 years, about 11,000 people have died with flu-related conditions.

"But I think the important thing about this winter is, we are likely to see flu, for the first time in any real numbers, co-circulating with COVID."

She added: "So I think it's an uncertain winter ahead - that's not a prediction it's an uncertain feature - but we do know that flu cases have been lower in the previous year so immunity and the strain types are a little more uncertain."

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Lead Image: PA Media

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