He said the “disproportionate” number of unvaccinated pregnant women in intensive care shows there is a “significant risk of severe illness from Covid-19 in pregnancy”.
He said: “We are urgently calling for all pregnant women to come forward for their vaccinations.
“There is robust evidence showing that the vaccine is the most effective way to protect both mother and baby against the possibility of severe illness from Covid-19.
“The disproportionate number of unvaccinated pregnant women in intensive care demonstrates that there is a significant risk of severe illness from Covid-19 in pregnancy.
“We do understand women’s concerns about having the vaccine in pregnancy, and we want to reassure women that there is no link between having the vaccine and an increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth, or stillbirth.”
Public Health England data shows more than 81,000 pregnant women have received the first dose of a Covid vaccine, and around 65,000 have received their second dose, NHS England said.
Addressing mothers-to be, Dunkley-Bent said: “You can receive vaccination at any time in pregnancy, but the risks that unvaccinated pregnant women face of becoming severely unwell if they catch Covid-19 show exactly why we advise you to do so as soon as possible.”
Sarah McMullen, director of impact and engagement at the NCT, said: “We’ve been extremely disappointed to hear of so much misinformation and confusion about the vaccination programme and so little focus on what’s needed to keep vulnerable groups safe as restrictions have eased.
“We strongly encourage pregnant women to consider having the Covid-19 vaccination and have information on our website to help them make a decision.”
Health Secretary Sajid Javid added his voice to calls encouraging pregnant women to have the jab, saying the latest figures on those in hospital are “desperately sad” and that vaccines will give “significant protection”.
NHS England’s medical director of primary care, Dr Nikki Kanani, told BBC Breakfast that pregnancy puts “quite a strain” on the heart and lungs and if pregnant women get Covid-19 then that “lays on pressure on an already pressurised system inside a pregnant woman, and that’s why almost 20% of people with coronavirus who are having extra support on critical care are pregnant women who are unvaccinated”.
She said: “So the evidence is really clear – if you’re not vaccinated yet and you’re pregnant, please take up that lifesaving offer of protection.”
She added: “I’m a mum of two and you read so much about what you should and shouldn’t do during your pregnancy.
“My advice is clear, the best thing that you can do is to take the vaccine if it is offered to you, and if you’re unsure because of all of the advice out there, speak to a medical professional who can talk about your concerns – and like the 81,000 other pregnant women – you may well feel reassured enough to have that really important first dose of protection.”
Need Your Help Today. Your $1 can change life.