The Chief Medical Officer has issued a fresh call for pregnant women to get vaccinated after a new study indicated their babies were far more at risk from the virus than the jab.
The warning comes as the spread of the Omicron variant continues to cause high case numbers in Northern Ireland.
A further three deaths of people with Covid-19 in Northern Ireland were announced yesterday. Another 2,518 confirmed cases of the virus were also recorded in the previous 24 hours.
Professor Sir Michael McBride said that new evidence confirmed that having Covid-19 during pregnancy creates a "far higher risk than having the vaccine".
The Chief Medical Officer was referring to a new study from the University of Edinburgh, which found that women who got Covid-19 towards the end of their pregnancy were at an increased risk of birth-related complications. The same study suggested that pre-term births, stillbirths and newborn deaths were more common among women who had the virus 28 days, or less, before their delivery date.
The researchers concluded: "Our findings emphasize the need for continued efforts to increase vaccination uptake in pregnant women, especially in younger and more deprived populations."
Sir Michael said: "This new study provides more evidence that having Covid-19 during pregnancy carries a far higher risk than having the vaccine, particularly in the later stages where it can have serious consequences for both mother and baby.
"The message is clear," he added. "Covid-19 vaccination is crucial in protecting women and babies from the life-threatening complications that can be associated with the virus.
"Anyone who is pregnant and has not received all of their vaccinations should not put off getting vaccinated until after their pregnancy."