Healthy living

Immunisation in pregnancy

  • If you’re planning a pregnancy, check your immunisation status before you get pregnant.
  • If you’re pregnant, get immunised for influenza (flu) and whooping cough (pertussis).
  • Pregnant women are at greater risk of complications from vaccine-preventable diseases than other healthy adults.
  • Newborn babies and children are at greater risk of complications from vaccine-preventable diseases than adults.

Pregnancy is a time when you need to take extra care of yourself to ensure you and your baby remain healthy.

This includes checking your immunisation status to ensure you are protected against common infectious diseases which can cause serious risks to you and your baby.

Immunisation not only protects you but also your baby in their first weeks of life when they are too young to be immunised against these infections themselves.

What do I need to consider whilst planning a pregnancy?

Visit your GP to check if your immunisations are up-to-date while planning your pregnancy to give you time to catch up on missed vaccines and ensure you are protected against the following vaccine-preventable diseases.

COVID-19 vaccine

If you are planning a pregnancy, you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. You do not need to avoid becoming pregnant before or after vaccination and vaccination does not affect fertility.

For more information go to the COVID-19 vaccination decision guide for women who are planning a pregnancy, pregnant or breastfeeding (external site).

Rubella and measles vaccine

Rubella infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects.

Measles is a highly infectious disease and can have serious complications for pregnant women and their babies.

For best protection you should have two doses of the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella) before you become pregnant.

This vaccination is not recommended during pregnancy, therefore it is advised that you have this vaccine at least one month before falling pregnant.

Chickenpox (varicella) vaccine

Chickenpox can be more severe in adults and if you are infected during the early stages of pregnancy or at time of delivery, it can cause birth defects or severe infection in your baby.

Chickenpox vaccination is not recommended during pregnancy, therefore it is advised that you have this vaccine at least one month before falling pregnant.

Whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine

Whooping cough remains prevalent in Australia and can be a serious and life-threatening disease in babies.

Babies receive their first whooping cough vaccine at 6 to 8 weeks.

Therefore, adults caring for the baby in the first few weeks of life should get the whooping cough vaccine to prevent them from getting whooping cough and passing it on to the baby before they can be protected by the vaccine themselves.

It's also important to make sure siblings are up-to-date with their childhood immunisations.

What do I need to consider whilst pregnant?

Watch more videos on the WA Health YouTube channel (external site).

Read the video transcript – Immunisation in pregnancy.

Influenza (flu) vaccine

During pregnancy, you are at much higher risk of respiratory complications if you catch influenza than other healthy adults.

Influenza vaccination not only protects you, but may also protect your baby for their first 6 months of life when they are at high risk of serious complications if they catch the virus and are too young to get vaccinated themselves.

The influenza vaccine is free for pregnant women and recommended during any stage of pregnancy. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic it is advised to get the influenza vaccine as soon as it is available.

For ongoing protection, your baby will need to get the vaccine as they get older. Babies can get a free influenza vaccine from 6 months of age. Learn more about the influenza vaccine for children.

Whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine

Outbreaks of whooping cough occur every 3 to 4 years in Australia.

Young babies are the most vulnerable; if they catch whooping cough they are at risk of serious complications, and can even die. Parents are a common source of whooping cough infection for babies and around 80% of babies with whooping cough get the infection from a parent or sibling.

As a mum, you are the most important person to be vaccinated to protect yourself and your baby. It is recommended that pregnant women receive the whooping cough vaccine during the third trimester of pregnancy (between 28 and 32 weeks). However, the vaccine can be given at any time during the third trimester up to delivery. The whooping cough vaccine is free for pregnant women and is delivered in one injection with diphtheria and tetanus (dTpa). Vaccination during pregnancy has shown to be more effective in reducing the risk of whooping cough in young infants than vaccinating the mother after the birth. Read more about the whooping cough vaccine in pregnancy.

It's also important for people, such as grandparents and siblings, who will be in close contact with your baby under 6 months of age to be immunised against whooping cough. Close adult contacts who haven't had a whooping cough vaccine in the past 10 years should receive a booster dose and siblings should be up-to-date with their childhood immunisations.

Babies under 6 weeks cannot get the whooping cough vaccine because their immune system is not developed enough. Babies receive their first whooping cough vaccine at 6 to 8 weeks.

Hepatitis B vaccine

If you have hepatitis B while pregnant, you can pass it to your baby during childbirth.

When you are pregnant, your doctor will offer you a simple blood test at your first visit to confirm whether you are protected against hepatitis B, so appropriate steps can be taken to protect your baby from the virus after birth.

It is recommended that all newborn babies receive their first dose of a primary course of HepB vaccine in the first 7 days of birth/before leaving the hospital.

COVID-19 vaccine

Although COVID-19 vaccine is not routinely recommended in pregnancy, you and your treating health professional may consider vaccination if the potential benefits outweigh any potential risks.

You should consider having a COVID-19 vaccine during your pregnancy if:

  • you have medical risk factors for severe COVID-19

AND

  • you are at high risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.

You may wish to wait until after your pregnancy to be vaccinated if:

  • you have no risk factors for severe COVID-19

OR

  • you are not at high risk of exposure to COVID-19.

For more information go to the COVID-19 vaccination decision guide for women who are planning a pregnancy, pregnant or breastfeeding (external site).

Read more about the COVID-19 vaccine.

What do I need to consider after giving birth?

COVID-19

If you are breastfeeding you can receive the COVID-19 vaccine. You do not need to stop breastfeeding before or after vaccination.

For more information go to the COVID-19 vaccination decision guide for women who are planning a pregnancy, pregnant or breastfeeding (external site).

Childhood immunisations

During the first few years of your child’s life they will need a number of immunisations to offer protection against the most serious childhood infections.

Following the recommended hepatitis B vaccine (within 7 days of birth), your child is due for their next vaccines at 6-8 weeks of age.

View the childhood immunisation schedule.

Where to get help

  • See your doctor, obstetrician or midwife
  • Phone healthdirect (external site) on 1800 022 222
  • Phone the National Immunisation Australia Information Line on 1800 671 811

Acknowledgements

Public Health


This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

Where can I get my vaccine?