Work under way to get pregnant women in Bedford 'the right' information about the Covid vaccine

Midwife says she doesn't want women to get their information "off Facebook or TikTok"

By John Guinn, Local Democracy Reporter
Friday, 12th November 2021, 3:55 pm
Updated Friday, 12th November 2021, 4:34 pm

Work is under way to make sure pregnant women are getting 'the right' information about the Covid vaccine - and not "not something off Facebook or TikTok", a meeting heard.

And the meeting heard that one midwife was told by a pregnant woman that she didn't want the Covid vaccination because her friend told her she shouldn't have it.

Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group (BLMK CCG) gave a presentation to Bedford Borough Council's Local Outbreak Engagement Board yesterday (Thursday, November 11) highlighting the work it is undertaking to inform pregnant women about the importance of the Covid vaccine.

The anxiety of taking something while pregnant is one of the challenges facing medical staff advising pregnant women to get vaccinated

The anxiety of taking something while pregnant is one of the challenges facing medical staff advising pregnant women to get vaccinated.

It doesn't help that the vaccine was initially not advised in pregnancy, said Dr Sanhita Chakrabarti, clinical lead at BLMK CCG.

"We've gone from 'you cannot have this vaccine' and 'make yourself known if you're pregnant' to 'please, go get your vaccine if you're pregnant'.

"So I think it's left our expecting mums quite rightly very anxious. I get lots of patients call up and say ‘are you sure’ and these are articulate, educated women.

"They take their flu vaccine because that's been going for a long time, they take the pertussis, but with the Covid vaccine they're wanting to understand [more about it]."

Jayne Pigott, BLMK public health midwife, added: "I was vaccinating yesterday at Luton and Dunstable, and the woman had the flu vaccine and pertussis vaccine.

"When I said to her, 'so you're obviously not against vaccines, what is it about Covid then?

"She said, 'oh my friend told me that I shouldn't have it’ and it's that type of thing you just get frustrated by - the fact that they haven't read the right information," she said.

The board was told that work is underway to ensure that pregnant women are fully informed about why the vaccine is important and that they have to opportunity to discuss their concerns with healthcare workers.

Ms Pigott said: "We've got those that will say no, and however much we talk to them they're very much a no on the vaccine.

"And that's absolutely fine if they've had the right information to make that choice.

"It's the unknowns that I'm more concerned about, because they haven't been given that [information] or maybe haven't taken on board what's been said or accessed what we're trying to tell them.

"So just making sure that everyone is making a fully informed choice with the right information, not something off Facebook or TikTok."

Dr Chakrabarti added: "We've got a lot of frequently asked questions on the BLMK CCG website, which we've been putting on for a long time.

"All of the questions that we get through patients, public, through our webinars, or through the helplines that we've got, we update the frequently asked questions all the time.

"We really, really want to get as many expectant mums vaccinated to avoid some of the really serious cases that we see in the hospitals now around unvaccinated pregnant mums," she said.

Currently in Bedford borough, first dose vaccines for pregnant women stands at 55.83 per cent and second doses at 45.39 per cent. Nationally, it is 52 per cent for first dose and 34 per cent for the second dose.