A creator of the Oxford coronavirus jab has urged pregnant women to take the vaccine, after studies showed this group accounted for almost a fifth of the most critically ill patients in England.
Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, who was one of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab inventors, said it is especially important that expectant mothers are immunised because coronavirus can be especially dangerous if contracted during pregnancy.
Speaking after feeding a penguin named after her at the Sea Life London Aquarium, Dame Sarah said: “It’s really important that pregnant women do get vaccinated.
“We have so much evidence now that it’s safe for them, it protects them, and Covid-19 is really dangerous in pregnancy.
“You don’t want to put yourself and your baby through Covid infection, so do have the vaccine.
“So much research has gone in to these vaccines, years of research.
“Before we even knew about coronavirus we were working on ways to make the vaccines.
“Billions of doses have now been delivered around the world, so there is so much evidence of their safety and their efficacy and it’s really important that people continue to get vaccinated.
“For those who have been called to have the booster: when it’s your turn, have the booster.”
This comes after NHS England found that between July 1 and September 30, 17% of Covid patients receiving treatment through a special lung-bypass machine were mothers-to-be who had not had their first vaccine dose.
The NHS has also said data showed that pregnant women accounted for 32% of all females aged between 16 and 49 in intensive care on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) – used when a patient’s lungs are so damaged by Covid that a ventilator cannot maintain oxygen levels.