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 and pertussis.
  • Pregnant women are at greater risk of complications from vaccine-preventable diseases than other healthy adults.
  • New born 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.

It is recommended that pregnant women receive both the influenza and pertussis vaccines. 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.

Infographic: Immunisation in pregnancy

Sources:

  1. Regan AK, Moore HC, de Klerk N, Omer SB, Shellam G, Mak DB, Effler PV. Seasonal trivalent influenza vaccination during pregnancy and the incidence of stillbirth: population-based retrospective cohort study. Clin Infect Dis 2016
  2. Influenza Specialist Group, Influenza in children (external site)
  3. Immunise Australia Program, Whooping cough (pertussis) (external site)
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.

Rubella

Rubella infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects.

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

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

Chickenpox (varicella)

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.

Pertussis (whooping cough)

Pertussis remains prevalent in Australia and can be a serious and life threatening disease in babies.

Babies receive their first DTPa vaccine at 6 to 8 weeks-of-age.

Therefore, adults caring for the baby in the first few months of life should be vaccinated against pertussis to prevent transmission to the baby before they can be protected by the vaccine themselves.

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.

Hepatitis B

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.

It’s recommended that you receive the following immunisations while you are pregnant:

Influenza (flu)

During pregnancy, you are at much higher risk of respiratory complications if you catch the flu 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 too young to receive the vaccine themselves and when they are at high risk of serious complications if they catch the virus.

This vaccine is recommended during any stage of pregnancy.

Pertussis (whooping cough)

Outbreaks of pertussis 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.

It is very important for all adults who will be caring for babies under 6 months of age to be fully immunised against pertussis.

You can be immunised against pertussis in the third trimester of your pregnancy.

These vaccines protect you and your newborn baby against these diseases in the first few months of life.

The whooping cough vaccine is free for all pregnant women.

If I am immunised while pregnant will my baby be protected?

You can pass on some immunity to some diseases such as flu to your baby while you are pregnant.

This immunity may protect your baby for the first 6 months of life. For ongoing protection, your baby will need to receive the vaccine themselves as they get older.

What do I need to consider after giving birth?

You can receive all the above vaccines after the baby is born, including measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) and chickenpox (varicella) vaccines.

In particular, it is highly recommended that you and your partner receive the pertussis vaccine, as soon as possible after delivery of the baby if you have not already had them whilst pregnant or in the previous 10 years.

Can I be immunised while breastfeeding?

In general, breastfeeding does not adversely affect immunisation, and some vaccinations, such as pertussis and influenza, are highly recommended at this time.

However, some vaccines, like hepatitis B are not recommended for breastfeeding women.

Let your doctor or immunisation provider know you are breastfeeding when you book your immunisation appointment.

Where to get help

  • See your doctor
  • Visit a GP after hours
  • Phone healthdirect on 1800 022 222
  • Phone the Immunise Australia Hotline on 1800 671 811

Remember

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

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.

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