Immunisation for pregnant women
Should you intend to become pregnant, it is a good idea to check whether you need any immunisations.
As a precaution, it is usually recommended that you avoid having most immunisations when you are pregnant.
Sometimes immunisation is necessary if the benefits of being immunized outweigh the risk to you and your unborn baby of having an infection. Some vaccines are recommended during pregnancy (e.g. the inactivated flu vaccine).
Always check with your doctor before having any immunisation to ensure it is safe for you to do so.
If possible, pregnant women should avoid being exposed to infections during pregnancy. For example, by avoiding:
- travel to countries where there are diseases that are not present in Australia (and you would need to be vaccinated before going there)
- high-risk behaviours that might lead to infection
- exposure to infection if you work with infectious material (e.g. healthcare workers or researchers).
Women planning a pregnancy should visit their health professional before they become pregnant to make sure that they are up-to-date with the following immunisations:
- chicken pox (varicella)
- hepatitis B
- measles, mumps, rubella
- pneumococcal vaccine (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people)
- whooping cough (pertussis).
Always check with your doctor about these vaccines, who can have them and their potential side effects.
What vaccines can pregnant women have?
- Flu vaccine
Flu vaccines can be given at any stage during pregnancy. It is recommended that you have the flu vaccine in autumn if you will be, or are planning to be, pregnant during winter.
Always check with your doctor whether it is safe for you to have an immunisation
Some vaccines are only recommended if there is a definite benefit. For example, you can have the following vaccines if the risks of having the infections mentioned below outweigh the risk to you and your unborn baby of being vaccinated:
- diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (pertussis) combined vaccine (or toxoid) — if you work with babies or children (e.g. in a childcare or hospital neonatal unit)
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) — if you are at risk of Hib infection (e.g. if you have no spleen or problems with spleen function)
- meningococcal vaccines — if you are at increased risk of meningococcal infection (e.g. if you have no spleen or problems with spleen function)
- pneumococcal vaccine (23 valent) — if you are at high risk of pneumococcal disease (e.g. if you have weakened immune system) and you have not been vaccinated in the past 5 years.
- hepatitis B — if you have not been vaccinated and you are at risk of infection
- hepatitis A — if you have not been vaccinated and you are at risk of infection
- typhoid — if you are travelling to a country where typhoid is present
- Japanese encephalitis — if you are at risk of infection (infection with Japanese encephalitis during pregnancy can cause miscarriage)
- polio virus — if you are at high risk of infection (e.g. travelling to countries where polio is present)
- rabies — if you are travelling to countries where rabies is present, or you have been exposed to rabies or a bat lyssavirus
- yellow fever – will only be given if you have to travel to a country where you will be at risk of infection.
Note: these vaccines are not funded by the National Immunisation Program in Australia. Women who wish to be vaccinated can do so at their own cost.
Ask your doctor or health professional for advice.
What vaccines can I have if I’m breastfeeding?
There is no known risk to your baby if you are vaccinated with any vaccine when you are breastfeeding, with the exception of the yellow fever vaccine.
What vaccines should family members have?
Ensure that all family members who will have contact with you or the new baby, including the baby’s father, other children and the baby’s grandparents, have all had their recommended immunisations including the rotavirus (children only), chickenpox (varicella zoster), measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) and whooping cough (pertussis) vaccines.