The Master of the National Maternity Hospital has encouraged pregnant women to 'strongly consider' getting a COVID-19 vaccine when it's available to them.
Professor Shane Higgins said the evidence is 'certainly mounting' that the vaccines are safe, including for pregnant women in high-risk groups.
He was speaking after a new study from the US found that pregnant people with COVID-19 appear to be at higher risk for serious illness and hospitalisation.
However, Professor Higgins told Newstalk Breakfast there's a 'quite stark' difference in the experience here compared to the US.
He said: “We are aware that pregnant patients who develop COVID-19 are at greater risk of hospital admissions, requiring ventilatory support, increased risk of pre-term birth and stillbirth. That’s what the evidence to date would indicate.
“But we’re not seeing that in our maternity populations here in Ireland.
"We’ve delivered nearly 7,000 babies since the start of the pandemic here at the National Maternity Hospital… we’ve had just over 80 positive cases… and they’ve all done very well.
“Most of the pregnant population who’ve developed the infection have had very mild, asymptomatic courses of the disease. Very few of them have been symptomatic."
Vaccines and public health advice
Professor Higgins said most pregnant women have taken the public health advice 'very seriously', including around mask-wearing and only leaving the house when necessary.
While the public health guidance has been the same for many months now, the availability of vaccines has raised new concerns for expectant parents.
Professor Higgins said: “Certainly all the evidence would suggest that particularly if you’re in a high-risk group - and it’s very well defined what a high-risk group is for pregnancy - you should strongly consider getting the vaccine.
"My advice is that when the vaccine becomes available to any pregnant woman, she should consider strongly getting it.
“The recommendation is talk to your obstetrician, midwife or GP before you get it. But I think the evidence is certainly mounting that it’s safe. It's a non-live vaccine vaccine, and it's been recommended across the world that high-risk pregnant women should get it."
Yesterday saw the Rotunda Hospital announce that partners will again be able to attend the 20-week pregnancy scan.
Professor Higgins said the National Maternity Hospital didn't change their rules around visits for partners during the second and third waves of the virus - and they are 'not going to change that now'.