Pregnant and breastfeeding women
Talk to your doctor before being immunised if you are planning a pregnancy, are pregnant or breastfeeding. Even if you have had certain diseases or were vaccinated as a child, you may need a booster dose to ensure you are still protected.
To find out more, talk to your doctor or midwife.
During pregnancy, only two vaccinations are recommended:
- combined diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (pertussis), in short dTpa
The influenza and whooping cough vaccines are funded for all pregnant women, but you may have to pay for your medical consultation with your GP. Partners of pregnant women should also be vaccinated and should consult their GP to discuss their immunisation status and when to have the vaccines. Vaccination for partners is not funded.
Other vaccines are not recommended during pregnancy unless you are in a situation where the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks. You should discuss this with your GP.
You can get the pertussis vaccine and flu vaccine at the same time during your pregnancy. You can also get them at different visits. This will depend on what stage of pregnancy you are at when you visit your GP. You should discuss with your GP the best time to have the vaccines which will give you and your newborn baby the best protection possible.
The whooping cough vaccine is funded by the Australian Government as part of the National Immunisation Program and is available for all women in their third trimester of pregnancy. This vaccination is recommended in each pregnancy including pregnancies which are closely spaced, e.g. less than two years.
For the best protection against whooping cough for you and your newborn baby, you should get the pertussis vaccine in your third trimester of pregnancy (preferably between 28 and 32 weeks). While the vaccine can be given at any time during the third trimester of pregnancy, the transfer of maternal antibodies from the mother to the unborn baby can take up to 2 weeks. So it’s best to have your vaccination between 28 and 32 weeks to give the best protection to your baby. If you don’t receive the vaccine at the recommended time, it’s still important to be vaccinated because you will be protected against whooping cough and this will reduce the risk of you passing it on to your baby if you get whooping cough.
Newborn babies (up to six weeks of age) are too young to receive their first immunisation for whooping cough. By being vaccinated when you are pregnant, you will protect your baby against whooping cough until they are old enough to be routinely vaccinated from six weeks of age.
The whooping cough vaccine is safe for you and your unborn baby. Vaccination during pregnancy is recommended by Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council in the Australian Immunisation Handbook (10th Edition).
Flu vaccination for pregnant women
It is safe to have the influenza vaccine if you are pregnant or planning to have a baby.
When you are pregnant, you are at increased risk of serious complications from the flu. So, immunising against flu during pregnancy not only protects you but it gives ongoing protection to your baby for the first six months after birth.
For the best protection against flu, pregnant women who receive an influenza vaccine late in the influenza season, should be re-vaccinated if the next season's vaccine becomes available before the end of their pregnancy. The timing of vaccination will be dependent on the stage of your pregnancy, the time of year and vaccine availability. The flu vaccine can be safely given during any stage of pregnancy. Discuss your options with your GP.
Partners of pregnant women and household contacts
To protect your baby, both parents should be vaccinated against influenza and whooping cough.
For whooping cough, partners of pregnant women should be vaccinated at least 2 weeks before delivery. A booster dose of dTpa vaccine is recommended for partners who have not received one in the previous 10 years. If you have children already, make sure they are also vaccinated.
For influenza, partners of pregnant women should be vaccinated early in the pregnancy dependent on the time of year and vaccine availability.
As well as partners, other adults in close contact with newborn babies should consider the benefits to the baby and themselves by being vaccinated at least 2 weeks before beginning close contact with the baby.
After your baby is born, immunisations are safe, even if you are breastfeeding.
Immunisations can be given:
Rubella infection in a pregnant woman can cause serious birth defects in the baby. People born after 1966 may need a booster dose.
Pregnant women and unborn babies can become seriously ill from chickenpox and birth defects can result in the baby. A blood test can confirm if you are protected. If you are not protected, speak to your doctor about receiving 2 doses of vaccine.
Pregnancy increases the risk of developing serious complications from influenza.
Pregnant women can transmit the hepatitis B virus to the newborn at or around the time of birth.
Babies under 6 months of age are at risk of serious illness and even death from whooping cough. Parents should be vaccinated against whooping cough to reduce the risk of passing the disease onto their new baby.
If you smoke or have chronic heart, lung or kidney disease, or diabetes, then protection against pneumococcal disease is recommended prior to becoming pregnant.