Pregnancy and COVID vaccine: New priority status for pregnant women

Pregnancy and COVID vaccine: New priority status for pregnant women

Sally Elliott

Pregnant women, we have a news update you may want to hear about! Last week, pregnant women were deemed a priority group for COVID-19 vaccination, allowing expectant parents to breathe a sigh of relief amid Australia’s growing rate of infections. With most of the country locked down and New South Wales recording over 100 new cases per day, the federal health department has confirmed that pregnant women will now be able to receive the preferred Pfizer vaccine throughout Australia. 

The health department announced this in a statement on 23 July.

“All pregnant women aged 16 years and over have now been prioritised and are immediately eligible for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination,” the statement said, quoted in The Australian. “Vaccination providers can now vaccinate willing pregnant women aged 16 years and over, effective immediately.”

The statement urged pregnant women to liaise with their health professional about the timing of their jabs, but can book to be vaccinated at either local healthcare centres or vaccination hubs. This comes after a period of confusion around vaccine availability for people under 40 in Australia, as well as around pregnancy and covid vaccine suitability due to the fast-tracked development of the vaccines.

pregnancy and covid vaccine - pfizer priority status

So what’s changed?

While it was announced that pregnant women were given priority status to receive Pfizer jabs in Australia just last week, the Australian Technical Advisory Group (ATAGI) and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) first released a statement on the matter on June 9th. 

In that earlier statement, ATAGI and RANZCOG recommended that pregnant women be offered the Pfizer mRNA vaccine at any stage of pregnancy. It went on to explain that this was because - while most pregnant women who became ill with COVID had mild symptoms - pregnancy can increase the risk of requiring hospitalisation and intensive care from an illness. 

“... Pregnant women are potentially at increased risk of complications from any respiratory disease due to the physiological changes that occur in pregnancy,” RANZCOG’s statement said. “These include reduced lung function, increased oxygen consumption and changed immunity.”

Is it safe for pregnant women to receive a COVID-19 vaccination?

The federal department of health explained that no pregnant woman who contracted COVID-19 after being vaccinated required hospitalisation for the virus, affirming the RANZCOG’s view that the risk of severe outcomes for mother or baby is significantly higher from COVID-19 than from vaccination for it.

Want more info on pregnancy and the covid vaccine? Download your COVID-19 vaccination decision-making guide for pregnant women with health department-approved information and resources from the NSW Government.

If you’ve got a loved one who’s enduring COVID-19 lockdowns during her pregnancy, we can help you cheer her up! Check out our range of baby gift hampers here.