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Barwon Health / Maternity Services

(03) 4215 2060

Immunisation and pregnancy

Vaccines can protect against many infectious diseases; chickenpox, influenza, measles, mumps, rubella(German measles), diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (pertussis)pneumococcal disease and hepatitis B. Any serious side effects or allergic reactions to vaccines are rare.

Being immunised can protect from infectious diseases. Some infectious diseases in particular can cause serious harm to a pregnant woman and her unborn baby. Women are generally up-to-date with their immunisations before they become pregnant and all women will be offered influenza (during flu season) and whooping cough vaccines in every pregnancy.

If you are planning a pregnancy you can ask your doctor to check your immunity if you are not sure which immunisations you have had. If you are not up to date with any immunisations, your doctor can advise you about catchup doses. It is advisable to wait for at least one month after receiving live vaccines such as the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine or the chickenpox vaccine (check with your doctor about this) before becoming pregnant .

Everyone living in your house should be asked to check their immunity with their doctor and be immunised if needed to reduce the risk of diseases being passed to your baby.

Influenza (Flu) Vaccination

The flu (influenza virus) virus changes from year to year which means the vaccine has to be updated every year. When you are pregnant you can become quite sick with flu and you and your baby are at increased risk of complications. If you are pregnant during flu season you will be advised by your midwife or doctor to take precautions. Having the flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your unborn baby from the common flu viruses and also a highly effective way in protecting your baby in the first 6 months of life. 

Influenza vaccine is free and recommended to be given at any time during pregnancy.

Whooping cough vaccination (Pertussis)

The whooping cough vaccine is free for pregnant women through the National Immunisation Program. It is safe and provides protection for pregnant women and their young babies.

It is a combination of vaccines including tetanus and diphtheria protection, and is recommended to be given between 20 and 32 weeks in each pregnancy, but it can be given up until delivery. Vaccination during pregnancy has been shown to benefit the newborn by passing protection from the mother to the baby. Whooping cough infection can cause serious complications for babies.

The most important person in the family to be vaccinated, to give the highest protection to your newborn baby, is the mother during pregnancy. Vaccination of other family members does not provide your baby with protective antibodies. However, vaccination of family members can protect them and minimise the chance of bringing whooping cough infection into the home.


Last Modified: Friday, 13 March 2020