Do pregnant women get Covid-19 booster vaccines?

22 September 2021

We have been asked on WhatsApp whether pregnant women will be prioritised for booster Covid-19 vaccines, and what the current guidance is. 

Decisions around the booster programme have been constantly evolving since it was introduced. In September, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which advises the government on immunisation, said priority groups 1 to 9 should be offered a Covid-19 booster vaccine at least six months after receiving their second dose of Covid-19 vaccine. This included: 

  • People living in residential care homes for older adults
  • Adults 50 years and over 
  • Frontline health and social care workers
  • People aged 16 to 49 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe Covid-19
  • Adult carers
  • People experiencing homelessness
  • Adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals

The JCVI has since updated this advice, and has now recommended that all adults over the age of 18 (and those over 16 who have certain health conditions, caring responsibilities, or live in households with people who are immunosuppressed) receive a booster vaccine. In addition, on 16 December, the JCVI announced that pregnant women should be considered a clinical risk group for primary and booster vaccinations.

The JCVI has also updated its advice to say that boosters should be offered after three months has elapsed since the second dose, rather than six months. 

There are special recommendations for individuals who are themselves immunosuppressed. 

Dr Pat O’Brien, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist and Vice President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) previously told Full Fact: “We encourage all pregnant women who are eligible to get the COVID-19 booster vaccine, to ensure that their protection against COVID-19 is maintained to a high level.” 

The RCOG has since said that they are “encouraging all pregnant women to schedule their booster jabs as soon as it’s been three months since their second vaccine to ensure that their protection against COVID-19 and the new variant is the best it can be”.

Of the decision to include pregnant women as a clinical risk group, Dr Edward Morris, President of the RCOG, said: “We welcome the announcement from the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) that recognises pregnant women are more vulnerable to severe illness should they get infected and will therefore be prioritised for vaccination. This is something we have been calling on the JCVI to introduce and we are pleased they have listened.

“It is vital that pregnant women can easily access the booster vaccine to ensure that a good level of protection against COVID-19 and the new variant is maintained. 

“Women who do develop symptomatic COVID-19 have an increased risk of giving birth prematurely, and stillbirth. The latest data from UKHSA shows only a fifth of women who gave birth in August were vaccinated and we would strongly recommend that all pregnant women get vaccinated as soon as possible, as it’s the best way to protect themselves and their baby against COVID-19. 

“We encourage the Government to consider all available options to ensure that pregnant women are given priority when booking their COVID-19 vaccines.”

The JCVI has advised that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is used as a booster dose, or a half dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine as an alternative, regardless of which brand or type of vaccine individuals had originally. 

Public Health England has previously told Full Fact that there aren’t separate or specialised booster recommendations for pregnant women. This means the same recommendations regarding the type of booster would apply.

The information included in this article contains the latest evidence and official guidance available at the time it was written. This is not a substitute for medical advice. If you require specific medical advice please consult your GP or midwife.


Update 17 November 2021

This piece has been updated to include updated advice from the JCVI regarding the age groups eligible for boosters.

Update 15 December 2021

This piece has been updated to reflect changes in the booster programme roll out and JCVI advice.

Update 17 December 2021

This piece has been updated to reflect changes in the booster programme roll out and JCVI advice.

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