Pregnant women are being urged to take the coronavirus vaccine after research shows they are twice as likely to have a stillbirth.

Wales is the first devolved nation to begin a campaign for pregnant women to be vaccinated. It will be delivered digitally and via social media. 

Large numbers of pregnant women have been hospitalised with the virus, with 17 per cent of patients being treated with a special lung-bypass machine in England being unvaccinated pregnant women.

Mounting evidence suggests that pregnant women are at higher risk of developing serious conditions and hospitalisation compared to non-pregnant women with coronavirus.

READ MORE: Drakeford shares winter coronavirus plan in Wales

Complications such as pre-eclampsia, pre-term birth and stillbirth are twice as likely in pregnant women with coronavirus compared to pregnant women who don’t have coronavirus.

Risks increase in the third trimester and for women with underlying health conditions.

Medical experts are pleading with women to get the vaccine, saying that there are no adverse effects to taking it.

Dr Christopher Johnson, consultant epidemiologist and interim head of the Vaccine Preventable Disease Programme for Public Health Wales, said: "Vaccines are safe and highly effective in preventing coronavirus and reducing risks to pregnant women and their babies.

READ MORE: People are now receiving Covid booster jabs in Wales

"In America 160,000 pregnant women have had the Coronavirus vaccine, and here in Wales, Scotland and England 100,000 pregnant women have had the coronavirus vaccine.

"No adverse effects on pregnancy have been identified as a result of having the vaccine while pregnant.

"The NHS monitors the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine in pregnancy and we will continue to do so.

"There has been a lot of misinformation around the safety of the vaccines in pregnancy.

"However, research involving more than 40,000 pregnant women shows having the coronavirus vaccine does not increase the risk of miscarriage, pre-term birth or stillbirth.

“However, catching coronavirus while pregnant means you’re twice as likely to develop complications like pre-eclampsia, pre-term birth and stillbirth.

"Although the risks involved are generally quite low, the science shows it is safer to have the vaccine than not have it."

READ MORE: Public split on Covid booster jabs and flu vaccines

As the vaccine is not live, there is no chance of being infected with Covid-19 simply by taking it.

However, the vaccine is not infallibe and people can still contract the virus after being fully vaccinated.

But the vaccine provides a much higher level of protection and greatly reduces any risks of complications or serious illness.

Chief nursing officer for Wales, Sue Tranka, said: "I want to reassure expectant mothers that the coronavirus vaccine is based on science that has been used safely on pregnant women for many years, including vaccines already administered during pregnancy like whooping cough and the flu vaccine.

"The vaccine used is not a live vaccine, so cannot give you the virus.

"The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives both recommend vaccination as one of the best defenses against severe infection.

"We are seeing an increased number of unvaccinated pregnant women in hospital seriously ill with coronavirus.

"The vaccine can help protect mums and babies from avoidable harm and can be given at any time during pregnancy.

"I would encourage people to take the vaccine when offered."

If you value The National's journalism, help grow our team of reporters by becoming a subscriber.