Immunisation for pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time when you need to take extra care of yourself to ensure you and your baby remain healthy. This includes checking that your vaccinations are up to date to ensure you have the best protection against common infectious diseases. The information on this page is a general guide to immunisations for women who are pregnant or planning pregnancy.

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

This includes checking that your vaccinations are up to date to ensure you have the best protection against common infectious diseases.

What do I need to consider while pregnant?

If you are pregnant, these vaccinations are recommended:

Influenza

Group of pregnant women standing together
1:30
Read transcript

00:00 ---> 00:05
Why should you vaccinate against influenza in pregnancy?

00:06---> 00:22
Influenza is not just a cold – it’s a serious disease for pregnant women and their developing babies. Many women don’t realise that during pregnancy there are changes to their immune, heart and lung functions that make them more vulnerable to severe illness from influenza.

00:23---> 00:28
I’m getting vaccinated because I had no idea how serious influenza really is for women during pregnancy.

00:29---> 00:32
The influenza vaccine is safe at any time during pregnancy.

00:33---> 00:36
I’m getting vaccinated to protect myself and my baby.

00:37---> 00:45
Influenza infection in infants can be dangerous. In the worst cases, it can lead to death from serious respiratory problems and pneumonia.

00:46 ---> 00:56
That’s why getting vaccinated during pregnancy is so important because it passes on protective antibodies to your baby which will protect them in the first few months of life when they are most vulnerable.

00:57 --> 01:07
I’m getting vaccinated because influenza is dangerous and I want to make sure my new born baby is protected until they’re old enough to get the influenza vaccination themselves at six months of age.

01:08 --> 01:12
I plan to get vaccinated before the peak influenza season to ensure I give it enough time to take effect.

01:13---> 01:19
Vaccination during pregnancy is the best way for pregnant women to protect themselves and their babies from influenza

01:20 ---> 01:23
Ask your doctor, specialist, nurse or midwife today,

01:24 ---> 01:28
or visit health.gov.au/immunisation

Influenza can be a serious disease, especially when you are pregnant. If you have influenza during pregnancy, you are at much higher risk than other adults of complications and possible hospitalisation. Immunisation not only protects you but also your baby. Babies under 6 months are too young to be vaccinated themselves but are at high risk of serious complications if they catch the virus. The best way to protect your newborn baby against influenza is to get vaccinated during pregnancy. 

The influenza vaccine is free for pregnant women as part of the National Immunisation Program (NIP).

The influenza vaccine is recommended during every pregnancy and at any stage of your pregnancy.  

Further information on why pregnant women should receive the influenza vaccine is available in the Protecting your baby against influenza starts when you're pregnant brochure.

Visit the Influenza immunisation service page for information about getting vaccinated against influenza.

Whooping cough (pertussis)

Image of mother and father
7:16
Read transcript

00:00 When I fell pregnant with Riley, we had just gotten married a couple of months ago and we were looking to complete our family.

00:07 Everything was just plain sailing. Like, we couldn’t have asked for a better experience during pregnancy. We already had a little girl, and we were ready to have a little boy and it felt like the family unit was complete, so it was a really amazing experience.

00:21 Riley was born in February, it was a hot morning and we arrived at the hospital really, really nervous but excited at the same time.

00:29 Every Dad dreams of having a son and I had already made all these grand plans for his whole life; I had mapped it all out. Things we were going to do together. So that day, my whole world felt like it was made. 

00:41 We liked going out for long walks, enjoying the sunshine and going to the river and the beach, just going out as a family of four. It was a beautiful time in our lives.

00:53 He was just a perfect baby, you know. He was just a joy to be around.

00:59 When Riley was three weeks old, he developed what I thought was a cold at the time. A bit of a sneeze, a bit of a runny nose; And because I was breastfeeding, I kind of thought nothing too serious would happen, I thought it would just pass. Um, but then he started to cough and I got a bit nervous and worried about that. So, Greg had just flown in from work and we went straight to hospital. Um, we thought we were being overprotective parents, we thought nothing bad was going to happen, that the doctors would just check him and let us know what virus he had and that he would be fine. But he wasn’t fine.

01:39 And when we ended up taking him to hospital, there is no way we ever imagined at all that we wouldn’t be taking him home with us.

01:46 He was admitted into hospital that day, and a couple of days later, the doctors started getting concerned that he was getting a lot worse and that he may have Whooping Cough. And, I was relieved to have a diagnosis, but I didn’t realise just how deadly Whooping Cough could be in babies as young as Riley. He was only four weeks old at that time. Um, so, Riley was transferred into the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, and things just progressively got worse from there.

When the doctors told us that Riley had Whooping Cough, I was surprised, I didn’t even realise that disease was still a problem in Australia. We had been vaccinated as adults against it, but Riley was too young for his own vaccines. Pretty much as soon as he was diagnosed, he just got worse and worse and we started to notice his cough develop a whoop sound, which it didn’t originally have. 
I thought there was a cure for Whooping Cough. I thought great, we know what it is, they can fix him. But there is no cure for Whooping Cough.

02:58 Um, but to watch your son deteriorate in front of you like that is one of the hardest things you can ever imagine. Really difficult. The image of my son just constantly coughing, coughing and pleading with me with his eyes hooked up to all these monitors. And I couldn’t fix him and I felt to helpless and so, at that moment, worthless as a Dad, because I couldn’t make it right.

03:32 We were called into the family room and informed that we should baptise Riley, and straight away, I just knew, this is it, like they think he is going to die and it was the first time I had really considered that and it just felt like a punch in the stomach and it felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest and I still remember him, you know, holding his hand and him gripping my little finger. But it just got worse and worse and his heart started to shut down from the toxins caused by the whooping cough.

I’ll never forget when they dragged a big arm chair into the Intensive Care room, because that’s when we knew that we had to say goodbye to him.

Doctors gave us his tiny little body, and it was still all covered in the tubes and wires. You know, it was time for him to go. To pass away. And we decided we wanted to hold him and cuddle him. We sung to him and talked to him and made promises to him; all the while I’m going “there is still a chance, there is still a chance”, but it was so final. The monitors just slowly sort of faded away, and we watched him die in front of our eyes, which is something no parent should ever have to experience. 

05:09 You know, there is nothing harder than holding your child and watching their life slip away from them. I would swap places with him in an instant. 

05:25 Young babies are really vulnerable to these types of diseases because we don’t start vaccinations until six to eight weeks. Riley was only four weeks old so he was too young for his own vaccinations, so he sort of relied on protection from our community.
I want all pregnant Mums to know, it’s so important to have a booster when you are pregnant to protect not just you but your baby against Whooping Cough. It can reduce the chance of your baby contracting Whooping Cough by over 90%. It’s so effective and to be able to give your baby the gift of immunity before your baby is even born is a miracle, it’s amazing.

06:04 We believe in the science and the evidence that is there, and you know we are really passionate about getting that message out there. 

06:11 When Riley was laying in our arms, we made promises to him and one of the most important promises that we have really tried to keep is to ensure is that babies have their rights protected, rights to good health and they’re safe from these deadly diseases.

Whooping cough is a serious disease for babies, and can be deadly. Vaccinating pregnant women is the best way to protect young babies against whooping cough. When you are vaccinated, your antibodies transfer from you to your developing baby. They receive protection from you when they are too young to be vaccinated themselves.

Further information on why pregnant women should receive the whooping cough vaccine is available in the Protect your baby from whooping cough brochure.

Watch videos of the Hughes family and the McCaffery family telling their personal stories about losing their babies to whooping cough.

Whooping cough vaccine is provided at no cost for pregnant women through the National Immunisation Program (NIP).

Whooping cough vaccine is recommended as a single dose between 20 and 32 weeks in each pregnancy.

Visit the Whooping cough immunisation services page for information about getting vaccinated against whooping cough.

What do I need to consider while planning a pregnancy?

If you are planning a pregnancy, talk to your doctor, nurse or midwife about your past vaccinations and which vaccinations you might need.

These vaccinations are recommended for women who are planning a pregnancy:

Rubella (German measles)

Rubella infection during pregnancy can cause serious health problems for your baby. If you are not already vaccinated against rubella, you should be vaccinated before you get pregnant.

Visit the Rubella immunisation service page for information on receiving the rubella vaccine.

Chickenpox (varicella)

Chickenpox can be more severe in adults. If you are infected during the early stages of pregnancy it can also cause birth defects. If you are infected near to when your baby is born, it can cause severe infection in your baby.

You should be vaccinated against chickenpox before you get pregnant if: 

  • you have not had chickenpox disease before, and
  • you have not had a chickenpox vaccine before.

Visit the Chickenpox immunisation service page for information on receiving the chickenpox vaccine.

Last updated: 
1 November 2019

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