Pregnant women are facing difficulties finding an appropriate coronavirus vaccination because the official booking system does not allow them to choose non-AstraZeneca jabs.
Medical professionals have called for the booking system to be amended to allow pregnant women to book non-AstraZeneca jabs, after the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation (JCVI) said last month pregnant women are eligible.
Why isn’t the AstraZeneca vaccine recommended for pregnant women?
According to the JCVI, the decision not to recommend the AstraZeneca vaccine was not because of concerns about potential blood clots, but because of a lack of data.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, Covid-19 chair of the committee, explained: “There have been no specific safety concerns from any brand of Covid-19 vaccines in relation to pregnancy.
“There is 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.”
What is the advice from the NHS?
The health service’s advice for pregnant women looking to get vaccinated against Covid-19 is that they should contact their maternity team or GP to make arrangements.
An NHS spokesperson told The Independent: “Following the updated guidance set out by the JCVI, the NHS immediately communicated the advice to GPs.
“If you’re pregnant, or think you might be, speak to your maternity team or GP surgery to discuss your vaccine appointment so that it can be arranged at a site offering the Pfizer/BioNTech or the Moderna vaccine, which is preferable for pregnant women.”
According to guidance on the NHS website, you will be able to discuss the benefits and potential risks of getting vaccinated while pregnant, to help you make an informed decision.
Will the booking system be amended?
According to an official NHS letter issued on 17 April, the booking system would be updated “over the coming days” to support eligible pregnant women “to book an appropriate appointment”.
However, no update has yet taken place.
Ros Bragg, director of charity Maternity Action, said: “The lack of clear guidance on how to access the appropriate vaccine has led to confusion among women and has led to wasted trips, unnecessary travel and delays in getting the vaccine.”
The Independent has contact NHS Digital for comment.