View all news

Pregnant women in Bristol have doubts about new COVID-19 vaccines, study reveals

Press release issued: 30 June 2021

Pregnant women said taking their routine vaccines like whooping cough and flu was even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic but they have doubts about the safety of taking new COVID-19 vaccines during their pregnancy, new research has found.

The findings from the study, which looked at the impact of the pandemic on attitudes towards vaccines and how pregnant women felt about taking a new COVID-19 vaccine, were presented to the British Psychological Society's Division of Health Psychology conference today [Wednesday 30 June], by BPS chartered member, Dr Emma Anderson from the University of Bristol.

Dr Anderson, Research Fellow and Health Psychologist in the Bristol Medical School: Population Health Sciences (PHS), said: "Maintaining routine vaccination of pregnant women is vital to protect against epidemics of preventable diseases on top of the pandemic. We also need to be able to protect pregnant women against COVID-19. Women’s attitudes are key."

Some 31 pregnant women from Bristol took part in video call/telephone interviews that explored their attitudes and likelihood to accept routine and new vaccines.

The interviews showed the women saw routine maternal vaccines as important but they were concerned about attending surgeries/health centres due to the risk of COVID-19. They were wary of new COVID-19 vaccines and thought the risks of vaccination were greater than catching the virus, especially because of a lack of evidence of vaccine safety for pregnant women.

Dr Anderson added: "Even highly motivated women can be put off attending for routine vaccination during the pandemic if they have concerns about the safety of appointments. It's clear if we want to encourage more pregnant women to take routine vaccines we need to make appointments efficient, for example by offering vaccines during scan appointments rather than requiring a separate visit.

"We also need healthcare settings to take all possible Covid-19 safety precautions and make sure women are told about them. For pregnant women to accept a relatively new vaccine such as for COVID-19, it's vital to gather research about its safety for pregnant women and to communicate this well."

This work was supported by the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute, University of Bristol, Wellcome Trust [ISSF3 grant 204813/Z/16/Z] and the Economic and Social Research Council [ES/T501840/1]. 


'Maternal vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic: A qualitative interview study with UK pregnant women' by Dr Emma Anderson in Midwifery

Further information

About the British Psychological Society
The British Psychological Society is a registered charity which acts as the representative body for psychology and psychologists in the UK, and is responsible for the promotion of excellence and ethical practice in the science, education and application of the discipline. 

As a society we support and enhance the development and application of psychology for the greater public good, setting high standards for research, education, and knowledge; disseminating our knowledge to increase public awareness. We strive to:

  • be the learned society and professional body for the discipline
  • make psychology accessible to all 
  • promote and advance the discipline 
  • be the authoritative and public voice of psychology
  • determine and ensure the highest standards in all we do

About Elizabeth Blackwell Institute
Nurturing research. Improving health.

The Elizabeth Blackwell Institute drives innovation in research to improve health for all. It nurtures interdisciplinary research to address the complex health challenges facing us today.

The institute focuses on:

  • Supporting the next generation of health researchers;
  • Connecting people to develop interdisciplinary research;
  • Including everyone in research so the research can benefit all.
Edit this page