Pharmacy-led vaccination sites have been urged to continue encouraging pregnant women to get vaccinated as part of ‘maximising access’ to Covid-19 vaccination in pregnancy.  

In a letter, sent to health bodies – including community pharmacy-led vaccination services - yesterday (25 January), NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) asked maternity service leads to coordinate with vaccination programme leads so that every woman attending a maternity service has easy, timely access to vaccine confidence conversations and co-located vaccination offers.  

It follows a similar letter in December, urging all healthcare workers to build vaccine confidence among pregnant women.  

'Still more to do'

The letter this week said there was ‘still more to do’ to ensure every woman has access to vaccination both before and during pregnancy.

It called for all vaccine programme leads to ensure vaccines are available within antenatal clinics, or in a walk-in service on the same site.

‘Vaccination and maternity leads should discuss how this resource could be used to provide in-reach clinics within every maternity service, without creating additional burden on midwifery staff,’ the letter said.  

‘Where it is not possible to provide vaccination co-located within maternity services, walk-in vaccinations should be available elsewhere on the same site.’

System-level working groups

The letter also asked for healthcare workers to ‘make every contact count to initiate a vaccine confidence discussion and support timely access’. 

Every vaccine site should have a system-lead that will oversee vaccination uptake in pregnant women, NHSE&I added.

It also called for a ‘system-level working group’ to oversee vaccination uptake in pregnant women, with input from all maternity providers, primary care and relevant stakeholders including pharmacy. 

This month, the Government launched a campaign urging pregnant women to get vaccinated after recent data showed 98% of pregnant women admitted to UK intensive care units with coronavirus symptoms were unvaccinated. 

This comes as Scottish researchers found that women who catch the virus near the end of pregnancy were more vulnerable to birth-related complications. 

The study, which has been published in Nature Medicine, concluded that getting vaccinated is crucial to protect pregnant women and their babies from life-threatening complications.