Covid clinic for those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning a family

Bolton GP Federation Chief Nurse, Kath Arrowsmith, talks here about the importance of being vaccinated against Covid whilst pregnant, and urges all women with any concerns about the vaccine to attend a special women’s only clinic.

As a GPN I have always been passionate about the immunisation programme in the UK. In this country we have eradicated many infectious diseases through the work which is mainly carried out at practice level. Administering those first vaccines to an 8-week-old baby ensures we are giving them the best start in life and protecting them from potentially life-threatening infections. During pregnancy mums are offered the flu vaccine at any stage of pregnancy and the whooping cough vaccine from 16 weeks gestation. Providing these vaccines to mum is the first stage of protecting their babies and a very important start which will provide them with protection until they are old enough to be vaccinated themselves at 8 weeks old.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, scientists around the world worked extremely hard to develop new vaccines to help protect us from the virus. They were given unlimited resources by governments to work quickly to produce a safe and effective vaccine. Too many people were losing their lives to Covid-19, so they were asked to work around the clock. They did all the clinical trials we would normally see, but because money was no object, they managed to do them at a much faster pace and provide evidence of their safety and effectiveness. Following this the vaccines were approved by the medicines regulators and the vaccination committees worldwide and production began, allowing us to start protecting communities around the world against Covid-19.

In the USA over 130,000 pregnant women have been vaccinated with an mRNA vaccine, such as Pfizer, and no safety concerns have been raised, so armed with this knowledge experts in the UK have advised that all pregnant women should be offered an mRNA vaccine. This is also advised to women who are breastfeeding and trying to conceive. The Covid vaccines are not live vaccines, like the flu and Whooping cough vaccines, which we routinely give in pregnancy in the UK.

Pregnant women can become unwell from Covid, the same way as everyone else, but the sad thing is they are more at risk of developing complications and becoming more unwell and then of course this can affect the unborn baby too. Sadly, we have seen pregnant women with Covid in ICU. We know those women had not been vaccinated and that is why we are urging anyone with any doubts at all to come to the clinic on Monday 2nd August. If you are unsure, come and have a chat with one of the team. We are here to support you and help you to make the right decision for you and your unborn baby. You will not be pressurised in any way, but you will have access to experts who can provide you with evidence-based facts about Covid-19 and vaccines.

As a mother and a grandmother, I am aware of how difficult it can be to have to make decisions surrounding health during pregnancy and the health of our unborn babies. We all want the best for our children, and we understand women have questions which need answering.

I want to invite anyone who is pregnant, breastfeeding and those planning a family to attend the clinic on Monday, come along, meet the team, and get some information, advice, and support. If you can’t make it on Monday, come along to any of the vaccination sites in Bolton, the teams are there to support you.