The share is likely to be higher than recent claims
Recent articles have stated that only about 15% of pregnant women in the UK have been fully vaccinated. This seems low, but is it right? The figure is quoted in a Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists press release but the only source given is a Public Health England report that states that, up to 31 August, around 65,000 women receiving their second vaccination ticked a box asking: “Are you or could you be pregnant?”. However, this number does not tell us what we want to know.
Fortunately, Public Health Scotland links health records on vaccinations, pregnancies and births. Its report tells us that, of 4,069 women who gave birth in August 2021, only 615 (15%) had received two vaccine doses. These women will have been pregnant throughout the vaccine rollout and have clearly tended to avoid vaccination – of women aged 35-39 giving birth in August, 23% were fully vaccinated, far fewer than the 71% for all adults aged 30-39.
David Spiegelhalter is chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication at Cambridge. Anthony Masters is statistical ambassador for the Royal Statistical Society