Pregnant women in Scotland are being encouraged to take up the offer of a coronavirus vaccine.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made the announcement during a press briefing on Tuesday afternoon.
Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government was moving in line with advice from the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation).
Women who catch coronavirus are statistically more likely to give birth prematurely, research has shown.
What the RCOG say
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) updated its advice regarding vaccines and pregnant women earlier this month.
They said: “Vaccination is the best way to protect against the known risks of COVID-19 in pregnancy for both women and babies, including admission of the woman to intensive care and premature birth of the baby.
“Women may wish to discuss the benefits and risks of having the vaccine with their healthcare professional and reach a joint decision based on individual circumstances.
“However, as for the non-pregnant population, pregnant women can receive a Covid-19 vaccine even if they have not had a discussion with a healthcare professional.
“You should not stop breastfeeding in order to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Women trying to become pregnant do not need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination and there is no evidence to suggest that Covid-19 vaccines will affect fertility.
“Having a Covid-19 vaccine will not remove the requirement for employers to carry out a risk assessment for pregnant employees, which should follow the rules set out in this government guidance.”
Advice on websites
When asked if the government would set itself targets as to the number of women it hopes to immunise and at what stage of pregnancy they should seek a jab, Ms Sturgeon said: “I’m not going to get into any of the clinical questions surrounding (vaccinating pregnant women).
“We want to see all eligible pregnant women vaccinated, just as we want to see all eligible people vaccinated.”
She added: “The Scottish Government in line with advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is strongly recommending that pregnant women get the vaccine as soon as they are asked to do so.
“Vaccination is the best way of protecting against the risks of Covid and pregnancy.
“And these include admission of the pregnant mother to intensive care and also the possibility of premature birth.”
Professor Jason Leitch added: “Any time during pregnancy, the vaccine appropriate for your age group and discuss it with your vaccinator.
Commenting, SNP Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin said: “I know for pregnant women and new mums across the north-east, the coronavirus pandemic has contributed to a lot more challenges.
“From partners being present at scans and births, to not being able to see family members until the last few months.
“Getting the vaccine is the safest way to help protect both you and your baby and that’s why the JCVI and the Scottish Government are both recommending pregnant women do so.
“If you are unsure about anything you can of course speak to your midwife or GP about receiving the vaccine.
“We know pregnant women who catch the coronavirus are two to three times more likely to have their babies prematurely and that’s why it’s so important women consider getting the vaccine to protect both themselves and their unborn child.”