UK data shows good safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnancy

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LONDON (Reuters) - COVID-19 vaccination is safe for pregnant women and not associated with higher rates of complications, data released by the UK Health Security Agency showed on Thursday, as officials urged pregnant women to take up the offer of shots.

The real-world data from the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Britain support other studies around the world that the vaccines are safe to give at any stage of pregnancy, the UKHSA said.

It found that there were not substantial differences in rates of stillbirths, rates of births of babies with low birthweight and the proportion of premature births between vaccinated women and unvaccinated women.

Officials said the data were especially reassuring given that the first pregnant women to be offered the vaccine were those with underlying health conditions who would be expected to be at a higher risk of complications.

"Every pregnant woman who has not yet been vaccinated should feel confident to go and get the jab, and that this will help to prevent the serious consequences of catching COVID-19 in pregnancy," said Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at UKHSA.

The UKHSA data found that vaccinated women had a stillbirth rate of 3.35 per 1,000, slightly lower than the rate of 3.60 per 1,000 in unvaccinated women.

The proportion of women giving birth prematurely was 6.51% for vaccinated people, slightly higher than 5.99% for unvaccinated women.

The government is urging pregnant women who have not yet been vaccinated to get their shots.

The health ministry said catching COVID-19 came with much bigger risks than having the vaccine, adding that only 22% of women who gave birth in August were vaccinated.

It said that 98% of pregnant women in hospital with symptomatic COVID-19 were unvaccinated, and vaccine take-up was lower in deprived areas and some minority groups.

(Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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