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Pregnant women urged to ignore Covid vaccine misinformation

MISNIFORMATION on Covid-19 vaccinations is likely to affect those with health anxiety, including pregnant women.

As many as 17 per cent of patients being treated with a special lung-bypass machine in England are pregnant women.

Dr Christopher Johnson, consultant epidemiologist and interim head of the Vaccine Preventable Disease Programme for Public Health Wales said: “The key message that we have is that that misinformation on vaccines can cause real harm.

“We recognise that it’s very difficult for people to make an informed choice.

“What’s really important is that we would advise mums who have questions, to make sure they’re getting information from reliable sources.

“There’s some excellent information available on our website, but also on other independent sites, including the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists who produce a lot of really useful information to help mums make an informed choice.”

Stefan Rollnick, head of the Misniformation Cell at Lynn PR, says that pregnant women are more likely to fall victim to misinformation.

Mr Rollnick said: “The evidence shows that health anxiety increases the chances of absorbing health misinformation.

“It makes complete sense to be concerned about your health during pregnancy because you’re not just responsible for your own health and wellbeing but that of your child’s.

“Disinformation is spread with the deliberate intention to cause harm and sow division, but often when it arrives at the newsfeeds of pregnant people it’s being spread as misinformation – without the intention to mislead or harm, but actually with the mistaken belief they are spreading good information.

“One way misinformation makes its way into our brains is because we take a “news-find-me” approach to the news – the dangerous belief that if we just scroll through our news feeds that the news will just jump out and inform us.

“That’s dangerous because this passivity means we’re more vulnerable to the limitations of our brain’s “autopilot” systems and may not cast such a critical eye on the headlines we’re reading or where they come from.

“In this way, the vaccine-hesitant actually digest misinformation through the larger “social flow” of information.

“That is to say from their friends and family on their newsfeeds – with anti-vax content sandwiched between their friend’s wedding photos and an angry status about wheelie bins being unsightly.”

Dr Johnson was insistent that mothers-to-be should try to get vaccinated as soon as possible to reduce the risk of serious birth complications.

“We would urge anyone to get vaccinated with two doses of the vaccine before they deliver. because the risk in pregnancy from from Covid is real,” said Dr Johnson.

“The risk of preterm delivery and the risk of stillbirth doubles if you get Covid during pregnancy compared to not having Covid during pregnancy.

” They are rare occurrences, they are not something that’s happening all the time,  but Covid is a complication you just don’t want to have when it is preventable with a safe and effective vaccine.”

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The vaccine also greatly reduces the risk of hospitalisation or birth complications if a pregnant woman catches Covid even if she is fully vaccinated.

Dr Johnson said: “How effective the vaccine is depends on the outcome that you are measuring.

“We know that the vaccine is very effective about preventing hospitalisation. and it’s very, very effective at preventing death.

“It’s slightly less effective at preventing you been infectious or preventing you actually developing the infection, but when you do, the consequences are far less serious.

“The risk of serious consequences is greatly reduced.”

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