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Vaccinations during pregnancy

Why are vaccines important?

Some vaccines are recommended during pregnancy to protect the health of you and your baby. 

During pregnancy, your immune system (the body’s natural defence) is weakened to protect the pregnancy. This can mean you’re less able to fight off infections which is why you will be offered the flu and COVID-19 vaccine while you are pregnant. Other vaccines, such as the whooping cough vaccine, are recommend during pregnancy to ensure your baby is protected as soon as they are born, until they are able to have their whooping cough vaccination at 8 weeks old.

All of the vaccinations that are recommended during pregnancy have been shown through research that they help keep you and the baby safer. All of the vaccines are inactive, which means they do not contain a live version of the virus it is protecting against.

The decision about whether to get vaccinated during pregnancy is yours and it’s natural to have questions or concerns about whether it’s right for you. Find out more below.

What vaccinations can I get?

The whooping cough, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), flu and Covid-19 vaccines are recommended during pregnancy to protect the health of you and your baby. These vaccines do not contain any live viruses and cannot give you or your baby the virus.

Vaccine Stage of pregnancy Disease it protects against
Whooping cough vaccine
Usually given when you are 16 to 32 weeks pregnant

Whooping cough (perussis)

RSV vaccine
Offered to women who are at least 28 weeks pregnant on 1 September 2024 then routinely at 28 weeks.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)

Flu vaccine
Best time to have it is in the autumn when the latest vaccine is available but before flu starts circulating. You can get a vaccine at any time of the flu season and at any stage of pregnancy.

Flu

Covid-19 vaccine
Autumn and winter when it is offered as part of the national vaccination campaign. It's safe to have the vaccine during any stage of pregnancy

Covid-19

Information about each vaccine

If you have any concerns or questions about any of the vaccinations offered during pregnancy, please speak to your GP or midwife. You can also visit the NHS website for information about vaccinations while you are pregnant.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common respiratory virus that that can cause serious lung infections in babies. 

When you have the RSV vaccination in pregnancy, your body produces antibodies to protect against it. These antibodies pass to your baby giving them very good protection from birth.

All women who are at least 28 weeks pregnant on 1 September 2024 will be offered the vaccine and then it will be routinely offered to all pregnant women at 28 weeks.

Pregnant women are more likely to get serious complications and be admitted to hospital if they catch flu, putting them and their baby at risk. Having the flu vaccine while pregnant means you are significantly less likely to catch flu.

The flu strains the vaccine protects against are updated each year so the best time to have it is in the autumn when the latest vaccine is available but before flu starts circulating. You can still get a vaccine at any time of the flu season and at any stage of pregnancy.

Whooping cough – also known as pertussis - is a very serious infection of the lungs, and young babies are most at risk. Most babies with whooping cough will be admitted to hospital.

When you have the whooping cough vaccine in pregnancy, your body produces antibodies to protect against whooping cough. These antibodies pass to your baby giving them very good protection from birth until they're able to have their whooping cough vaccination at 8 weeks old.

The vaccine is usually given when you are 16 to 32 weeks pregnant. If for any reason you miss having the vaccine, you can still have it up until you go into labour.

If you're pregnant, or think you might be, it's strongly recommended you get vaccinated against Covid-19 to protect you and your baby.

You're at higher risk of getting seriously ill from Covid-19 if you're pregnant. If you get Covid-19 late in your pregnancy, your baby could also be at risk.

You can get the Covid-19 vaccine in the autumn and winter when it is offered as part of the national vaccination campaign. It's safe to have the vaccine during any stage of pregnancy, from the first few weeks up to your expected due date.

 

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Downloads

Maternity vaccinations leaflet

Download our free leaflet with information on the vaccines that are safe and recommended during pregnancy

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