A fifth of all critically ill Covid patients are unvaccinated pregnant women, new data reveal, with health bosses urging them to get their jabs.
Between July 1 and Sep 30, 17 per cent of virus patients receiving treatment through a lung bypass machine were unvaccinated mothers-to-be, the figures show.
NHS England said pregnant women accounted for 32 per cent of all females aged between 16 and 49 in intensive care on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation – used when a patient’s lungs are so damaged by Covid that a ventilator cannot maintain oxygen levels. This figure has risen from six per cent at the beginning of the pandemic last year.
Carrie Johnson, who is expecting her second child with Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, has previously urged pregnant women to get the vaccine.
In August, the 33-year-old said she was "feeling great" after her second Covid jab and wanted to assure "anxious" mothers-to-be that almost 200,000 pregnant women in the UK and US had received a Pfizer or Moderna jab "without safety concerns".
Writing on Instagram, she said: "I know there are lots of pregnant women who are anxious about getting their Covid vaccine, but the evidence is incredibly reassuring. Most importantly, the data shows there is no increased risk or miscarriage, something I was definitely concerned about.
"The Royal College of Midwives has said that expectant mothers are at greater risk of serious illness if they get Covid, so being vaccinated really is the best way to keep you and your baby safe."
Carrie Johnson, who is expecting her second child with Boris Johnson, has previously urged pregnant women to get the vaccine
Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, England’s chief midwife, said the NHS England data was "another stark reminder" that the vaccine can "keep you, your baby and your loved ones safe and out of hospital".
NHS England said data from more than 100,000 Covid vaccinations in pregnancy in England and Scotland, and a further 160,000 in the US, show there has been no subsequent harm to the foetus or infant.
Dr Edward Morris, the president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said doctors understood women’s concerns but wanted to offer reassurance that the vaccine is safe.
He said the "disproportionate" number of unvaccinated pregnant women in intensive care showed that there is a "significant risk of severe illness from Covid-19 in pregnancy", adding: "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.
"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."
Public Health England data show that more than 81,000 pregnant women have received their first dose of a Covid vaccine and around 65,000 have received a second dose.
Addressing mothers-to be, Ms Dunkley-Bent said: "You can receive vaccination at any time in pregnancy, but the risks that unvaccinated pregnant women face of becoming severely unwell if they catch Covid-19 show exactly why we advise you to do so as soon as possible."
Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, joined calls for pregnant women to have their Covid jabs, saying the latest figures were "desperately sad" and that vaccines would give "significant protection".