Vaccine hesitancy in pregnant women
Despite national guidance, there is still a lot of vaccine hesitancy amongst pregnant women. The Ask a Midwife service has seen an increasing number of messages come in from expectant mums, their partners, family and friends seeking advice and to gain reassurance that the vaccine is absolutely safe for them and their baby.
In August, the Ask a Midwife service responded to 548 private messages with 62 of these questions being about the Covid vaccine. The midwives are able to have online conversations with those who send private messages, supporting an increasing number to make an informed decision about having their Covid vaccine.
The Ask a Midwife service is monitored daily by two midwives from the Humber, Coast and Vale area, who divide their time between answering enquiries and carrying out their midwifery clinical duties.
They provide the most up to date advice in a friendly and non-judgemental way. The service is available Monday to Friday by sending a private message to the Facebook page of the local Trust or the Humber Coast and Vale email address firstname.lastname@example.org
Launched during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic the service has flourished, supporting thousands of pregnant women as well as their partners, family and friends. The service responds to a wide range of queries from the Covid vaccine to antenatal symptoms, scans, appointments, smoking and maternal mental health.
Public health messages are displayed daily and the Midwives can share national guidance changes quickly. Women can ask questions about their pregnancy, labour or after the birth and get a prompt response helping to alleviate anxiety rather than waiting until their next midwife appointment.
Of the 548 messages the Ask a Midwife service answered in August, only 3.5% required a referral to another health professional. This helps reduce direct contact with hospital departments and GP surgeries at a time of high activity in The Humber, Coast and Vale Hospitals and health centres. The service has improved the referral process by being able to refer women directly to specialist midwives and services, so women do not have to ask the GP or midwife to do this.
In the UK, between February and July 2021, 99% of the 3,376 pregnant women who were in hospital with a positive Covid test, were not vaccinated. 1% had one vaccine. 49% of these positive tests were from expectant mums who were routinely screened but did not have any Covid symptoms. We would urge expectant mums to get the Covid vaccine as new data shows the overwhelming majority of pregnant women hospitalised with the virus have not had a vaccine and 1:10 of these women needed respiratory support whilst pregnant.
The service has been contacted by women who have spoken to them about the vaccine and then gone onto get their vaccine. The service is being widely promoted to encourage anyone who has any queries about maternity including the vaccine to get in touch. The service is open to everyone with midwives completely dedicated to answering the queries that come in.
A few of the positive comments we have had this month: –
“Hi, I just wanted to say a big thank you for all your support on this chat during my pregnancy! It’s a really great thing to have, many questions I had were so small I would have felt silly ringing up, so it was great to get that piece of mind!”
“I’d just like to say I don’t know when the service started, it certainly wasn’t around when I had my daughter two years ago, this is a brilliant service for asking a quick question instead of waiting to see a midwife, so thanks”.
“Thanks again for the speedy informative response”.
The local Facebook links are:
York and Scarborough @yorkandscarboroughbumps2babies
Hull and East Riding @heynhswc
North and North East Lincolnshire @nlagmaternity