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Press Release – How many more mothers have to die before the government provides proper vaccine access to pregnant women?

How many more mothers have to die before the government provides proper vaccine access to pregnant women?
In response to today’s 1pm press briefing from the JCVI on covid and vaccines for pregnant women, Joeli Brearley, founder of Pregnant Then Screwed has prepared the following statement:

“It’s too little too late. We have known for over a year that pregnant women are more vulnerable and we have repeatedly called on the Government to prioritise this group of women. Had they done this from the outset then many more pregnant women would be vaccinated. Instead, months later, they shove them in priority group 6 without any practical plan as to how they will access the jab or the booster.

We are awash with stories of heavily pregnant women standing in long queues for hours to get their vaccine, something that can cause excruciating pain, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy. Then, when they finally sit down for their jab, they are often handed a leaflet which says they should get sign off from their GP first. One woman told us she had to sign a waiver which stated that the vaccinator takes no responsibility if the vaccine harms her baby. Indeed, our own research found that 42% of pregnant women say a health professional made them question the safety of the vaccine. No wonder vaccine rates are so low amongst this group.
There is no use in the Government shouting at pregnant women that they must get vaccinated, without seriously considering how they will access it; and without a Government led communications campaign which explains how we know the vaccine is safe for pregnant women and their baby.

Meanwhile, little consideration has been given to the safety of pregnant women in the workplace. Our survey of almost 4,000 pregnant women found that half feel unsafe at work and only 42% say their employer is following a risk assessment, despite this being a legal obligation. The Government must immediately correct their website to state that it is a legal obligation of all employers to carry out an individual risk assessment when notified that a woman is pregnant, breastfeeding or has returned to work in the last 6 months. This is a simple step that could make a huge difference.”
On the 15th of December Pregnant Then Screwed, The  Royal College of Midwives, Birthrights, the Women’s Budget Group, Maternity Action and the Fawcett Society wrote to the Secretary of State for Health to warn of more tragedies should the Government not take immediate action to prioritise pregnant women for the booster and ensure their safety at work the group are calling on the Government to:
  1. Prevent the further spread of misinformation about the risks and benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines in pregnancy by ensuring all health professionals and those in vaccine centres are given the most up to date research and data, and they should be encouraged to have proactive conversations with pregnant women about the vaccine.  
  1. Include pregnant women under the age of 18 years old in those who are eligible for the booster vaccine.
  1. Design and deliver a Government-led campaign to encourage pregnant women to get vaccinated.
  2. Deploy vaccination teams in maternity units to ensure pregnant women can receive their vaccine and their booster vaccine at antenatal appointments. This must not be an expectation of midwives who are already under immense pressure to deliver quality care with recent data from the Royal College of Midwives showing that 84% are not happy with staffing levels and 67% are not happy with the quality of care they are able to give.
  3. Consider the opportunities in every part of the system to prioritise pregnant women for the vaccine and the booster and ensure they can be prioritised at vaccine centres to reduce their waiting time. This should be communicated at a national level. 
  4. Enhance the Government guidance: ‘Working Safely During COVID-19’ to include a specific section on pregnant women which stipulates that they should work from home where possible, must be enabled to remain 2 meters away from others at all times (including their commute to work), and they must be equipped with appropriate PPE. If this is not possible then they must be suspended from work on full pay, in line with existing health and safety regulations.
  5. Extend the furlough scheme for pregnant women until 2022 so that all employers can reclaim 80% of the cost of suspending a pregnant woman on safety grounds.
  6. Ensure the HSE are collecting data on breaches of health and safety with regards to pregnant women and that they are taking enforcement action where necessary  


Earlier this week Pregnant Then Screwed also ran a survey asking pregnant women about their experiences in the workplace and with the vaccine.
In sum, are the findings of the new survey below: 
3954 women who are currently pregnant responded to the survey. Of those: 
  • 94.1% are white, 2.7% are mixed race, 1.8% are Asian or Asian British, 0.8% are other ethnic group and 0.7% are Black or Black British
  • 47.7% are more than 28 weeks pregnant (which is the point at which all guidance for pregnant women is to take extra precaution.) 
  • 26.6% said they feel very scared for their safety, while 58% said they feel somewhat scared for their safety 
  • 1844 of the pregnant women surveyed were leaving the house to go to work. With 49.8% saying they feel unsafe at work
  • When asked if their employer had completed a risk assessment and they were following it. Only 42.8% said yes. 74.2% of those who either didn’t have a risk assessment or had one but their employer was not following it had not raised this issue with their employer.  With 22.3% of those who had not raised the issue with their employer stating that they were worried they would lose their job if they demanded a risk assessment. 
  • 90% of those who responded had received at least 1 dose of the vaccine 
  • For almost 50%, the last dose of the vaccine was less than 3 months ago 
  • 22% had received two doses of the vaccine and the booster 
  • 74% had received two doses of the vaccine, and of those 24% had attempted to get the booster vaccine. Of those 85.9% were unsuccessful. 
  • 31.4% said that when they were in a vaccine centre, a health professional said something that made them question whether the vaccine was safe for pregnant women. 
  • 21.5% said that when they were in a vaccine center a health professional questioned their decision to have the vaccine 
  • 41.9% said that a health professional has made them question the safety of the vaccine 






For further press information and case studies please contact: [email protected]


Notes to Editor: 

About Pregnant Then Screwed (  is a charity which aims to end the Motherhood Penalty. we protect, support and promote the rights of mothers who suffer the effects of systemic, cultural, and institutional discrimination through our various schemes and activities, including: A free legal advice service, lobbying the Government for legislative change, and a mentor scheme that supports women who are considering legal action against their employer.

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