During pregnancy, it is important you are protected against infections and illnesses that can be harmful to you and your baby. The best way to be sure of this protection is to get the recommended vaccinations at the appropriate time.
Pregnant women are recommended to get the flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine at any stage of pregnancy, and whooping cough vaccine from 16 weeks of pregnancy. They can be given at the same time or separately.
On this page, you can find the following information:
You can get a COVID-19 vaccine at any stage of your pregnancy.
If you’re trying for a baby or pregnant, you can receive the Pfizer vaccine (Comirnaty). The Pfizer vaccine will not affect your genes or fertility. The mRNA from the vaccine does not enter the nucleus of any cells, which is where your DNA is.
Read more about COVID-19, pregnancy and breastfeeding.
You can get the flu vaccine at any stage of your pregnancy.
Catching the flu during pregnancy increases your chances for serious problems such as pneumonia, respiratory failure, stillbirth, and premature labour and delivery. Getting the flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your baby during pregnancy and for several months after birth from flu-related complications.
Vaccination anytime during the pregnancy stimulates the mother's immune system to produce antibodies, reducing the risk of the mother getting the flu. The antibodies also pass across the placenta into your baby's bloodstream, protecting your baby from the flu for up to 6 months after birth.
You can get your whooping cough vaccine from 16 weeks gestation.
You should get a booster pertussis vaccine at each pregnancy because protection against pertussis decreases over time.
Pertussis vaccine protects against the bacterial infection whooping cough (also called pertussis) that causes uncontrollable coughing. Complications can be serious, including pneumonia and seizures.
You should have the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine in the second or third trimester of each pregnancy – preferably within the second trimester, from 16 weeks, but at least 2 weeks before the birth. This gives enough time for your immune system to produce antibody protection against pertussis (whooping cough) and for high levels of antibodies to pass through the placenta into your baby to provide your baby with its own temporary protection against severe disease.
Babies less than 6 months of age have the highest risk of hospitalisation and death from whooping cough. Although babies receive vaccinations against whooping cough at 6 weeks, 3 months and 5 months of age, they only have full protection after the third dose.
Vaccination with the pertussis vaccine during pregnancy is the best way to protect newborns against whooping cough. The vaccination offers protection in 2 ways:
- It stimulates the mother's immune system to produce antibodies, which reduces the risk of the mother getting the disease and therefore reduce the risk of her passing it onto her baby.
- The antibodies also pass across the placenta into the baby's bloodstream, protecting the baby from severe whooping cough for the first few weeks after birth. Your baby should then be vaccinated themselves at the age of 6 weeks.
Some vaccines are best not given during pregnancy. These include the MMR, chickenpox and pneumococcal vaccines. It is best to wait 4 weeks (1 month) after having these vaccines before trying to get pregnant.
Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)
Rubella infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects. If you were born after 1968, you may need a booster vaccination of MMR for full protection against measles, mumps and rubella. Check with your doctor. It is best to wait 4 weeks (1 month) after having this vaccine before trying to get pregnant. Read more about MMR vaccine.
Chickenpox infection during pregnancy can cause severe illness in you and your unborn baby. A simple blood test can check whether you have immunity to this infection. If you are not protected, ask your doctor for 2 doses of the vaccine for full immunity. It is best to wait 4 weeks (1 month) after having this vaccine before trying to get pregnant. Read more about chickenpox vaccine.
Pneumococcal vaccine is used to prevent infection that is caused by a bacteria called Pneumococcus. This ‘bug’ is easily spread through the air, when someone with the bacteria coughs, sneezes or even talks. It can also be spread by touching objects that have been coughed or sneezed on by someone with the bacteria. Pneumococcal disease can range from mild infections, such as ear or sinus infections, to serious, life-threatening infections like pneumonia, meningitis or blood infection. Read more about pneumococcal vaccine.
Recommended and funded vaccines during pregnancy Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ, 2022
Influenza and pregnancy Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ
Immunisation for pregnant women Ministry of Health, NZ
Pregnant women Fight Flu, NZ
- Boostrix Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ, 2020
- Pertussis immunisation in pregnancy BPAC, NZ, 2014
- Seasonal influenza vaccination update: 2017 BPAC, NZ, 2017
- Recommended and funded vaccines during pregnancy Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ
- Pertussis (whooping cough) Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ
|Jeremy Steinberg is a GP with special interests in musculoskeletal medicine, evidence-based medicine and use of ultrasound. He's been reviewing topics for Health Navigator since 2017 and in his spare time loves programming. You can see some of the tools he's developed on his website.|