Catherine McKinnell, Member of Parliament for Newcastle North, has welcomed the decision from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to classify pregnant women within vaccine priority group 6, which brings the priority in line with adults under 65 with a long-term health condition.

Catherine has campaigned, alongside pregnancy campaign groups and maternal health experts, for greater priority for pregnant women, and has urged increased take up of 1st, 2nd and booster vaccines for pregnant women.

On Monday, during the Covid-19 statement in Parliament, Catherine called on the Health Secretary to “set out what the Government will do to send the message loud and clear that vaccination uptake for pregnant women and their babies is a priority for the Government”.

The call for greater priority comes after NHS data in November showed that 98% of pregnant women in hospital with covid were unvaccinated.

In response to Catherine’s question, Health Secretary Sajid Javid stated that increasing the uptake of vaccines amongst pregnant women was “One of the central focuses” of the Department for Health and that agreed that “sadly, when we look at the data on pregnant women who are going into hospital because of covid infections, we see that almost all of them are unvaccinated.”

The decision to give vaccine priority has been welcomed by both the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Following the announcement, Catherine commented “Throughout the pandemic many pregnant women have received confusing and sometimes contradictory advice, and this had led to uncertainty amongst pregnant women. Pregnant women want to do the right thing to protect themselves and their babies, but there has been a lack of clarity and a lack of prioritisation for vaccines.

“I am pleased with the updated Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation guidance sends a very clear message and prioritisation for pregnant women.”