Pregnant women trying to get their preferred coronavirus vaccine face confusion, delays and wasted travel, according to a charity.
The Joint Vaccination and Immunization Committee (JCVI) advises that it is “preferable” to pregnant women in the UK to offer Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines when available.
However, the online booking system has not given pregnant women the option to indicate which vaccine they want.
It is understood that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are considered preferable because they are the shocks for which safety information on pregnant women is available, while for other shocks like the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine, not as much relevant data is available are present.
On Friday it was confirmed that under 40s would be offered an alternative to the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, chairman of the JCVI, hopes the NHS England can “overcome” difficulties with pregnant women who have access to the Pfizer or Moderna coronavirus vaccines.
He said in a televised briefing: “Regarding access to such vaccines, I understand there have been some reports of difficulties in accessing the vaccines.
“I definitely hope that NHS England can operationally overcome these access difficulties.”
He said while the JCVI advises that it is preferable for pregnant women to offer a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, “we are not saying that the other vaccines are in any way harmful or should not be given”.
He added, “Simply, when it is available, we should offer pregnant women the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines whenever possible.”
Ros Bragg, director of Maternity Action Charity Maternity Action, said she was not surprised that pregnant women had difficulty accessing the preferred Covid-19 vaccine, adding that the needs of pregnant women and new mothers were “extremely low” be a priority list ”throughout the pandemic.
Ms. Bragg said, “Pregnant women are still expected to work in public roles and busy offices during their pregnancy. Even after 28 weeks, they are rarely given additional protection.
“Women receive little help from the health and safety officer and can generally choose between unsafe working conditions, sick leave, early maternity leave or retirement.
“With this in mind, we have cautiously welcomed the news that the JCVI has updated its guidelines for pregnant women receiving certain covid shocks.
“However, the lack of clear guidelines on how to access the appropriate vaccine has created confusion among women, leading to wasted travel, unnecessary travel and delays in obtaining the vaccine.”
Ms. Bragg said the problem will only worsen as more pregnant women in younger cohorts are eligible for a sting.
“We urge the government to urgently review their vaccine booking procedures so that women can book a suitable vaccine in a timely and uncomplicated manner,” she said.
Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, emphasized the importance of general practitioners having all the relevant information.
He said, “When directing patients to their GP practice, it is important that all GPs are informed about how to deal with issues, regardless of whether they are involved in the vaccination program.”
“General practitioners and their teams will try to make it easier for pregnant women to get the right vaccine when they are able – as well as other health professionals they are likely to be in contact with, such as midwives – but it is important to that they are informed how to do this.
“It would be helpful for everyone involved if patients advised not to receive the AZ vaccine had the option of booking directly to a non-AZ vaccination clinic through the booking system, especially if this applies to other, larger patient groups . “
Mumsnet Founder Justine Roberts said, “Rather, this begs the question of why the online booking process can’t cope with something as common as pregnancy.
“It feels like another system that just doesn’t take women into account. If millions of people in every age cohort are desperate to book an appointment as soon as they are available online, it is profoundly discriminatory to build a system that only allows pregnant women through have to jump several hoops. “
Labor MP Stella Creasy highlighted the issue on Twitter, saying that some local doctors were telling residents to contact their office to book their appointment.
On Friday morning, she tweeted, “While we thank once again the doctors, nurses and volunteers at the @wfcovidvaccinescentre in the Walthamstow library who vaccinate pregnant women with Pfizer as part of our local program – if you are there and pregnant contact mine Office to participate! “
Commenting on a social media user who asked if pregnant women really have difficulty getting a vaccine, Ms Creasy said, “As usual, it takes an avalanche of women to explain their experiences before a man’s skepticism is overcome becomes.”
An NHS spokeswoman said: “According to the updated guidance from the JCVI, the NHS immediately passed the advice to general practitioners.
“If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, speak to your maternity team or GP to discuss your vaccine appointment so that it can be made at a location where the Pfizer / BioNTech or Moderna vaccine is available which is preferable to pregnant women. “