Vaccinations in pregnancy

Vaccinations that are offered during pregnancy have been shown by research to help keep you and the baby safer. You will be offered free vaccinations for whooping cough and flu during pregnancy. You may also be offered the COVID 19 vaccine.

Whooping cough vaccine in pregnancy

Whooping cough (pertussis) is a respiratory (lung) infection that develops into severe coughing fits. This illness can make babies very ill. The vaccine, which is given to you during pregnancy, protects babies against this illness until they are old enough to have their first vaccinations.

When should I be offered the whooping cough vaccine?

Your GP or midwife will offer you the whooping cough vaccine between 16 and 32 weeks of pregnancy. This gives you and your baby the best protection, but you can have the vaccine right up until you go into labour.

Getting this vaccination while you are pregnant will help protect your baby from developing whooping cough in the first few weeks of their life. The immunity you get from the vaccine passes through the placenta to your unborn baby. This will protect them until they are vaccinated at 2 months old.

Is the whooping cough vaccine safe?

Yes. The vaccine has been used successfully in the UK and other countries for several years. There is no evidence that it can cause harm to you or your baby.

Read more about the whooping cough vaccine and safety in pregnancy.

COVID-19 vaccine in pregnancy

Having the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy helps to protect you and your baby from serious illness.  

If you have not had any COVID-19 vaccines and you get pregnant, you may be offered the COVID vaccine in autumn. You may have this at the same time as the flu vaccine.

If you have a higher chance of getting very ill from COVID-19, you may be offered a vaccine at other times of the year.  

The vaccine does not contain any live virus so cannot give you or your baby COVID-19. Studies have shown that it is safe to have the vaccine at any stage of pregnancy.  

Read more about having the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy.

Flu vaccine in pregnancy

Catching flu during pregnancy can cause complications for you and your baby. Having the flu vaccine as soon as you are offered it will give you the most protection. The best time to have a flu vaccine is in the autumn, before flu starts circulating. 

The vaccine does not contain any live virus, so it cannot cause flu. It is safe to have the vaccine at any stage during pregnancy.

Some people get a slight temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days afterwards. You may also feel a bit sore at the injection site.

In some areas, midwives can give a flu vaccine at the antenatal clinic. In others, you will need an appointment at a GP practice. Some community pharmacies also offer flu vaccination that is free of charge through the NHS.

Find out more about the flu vaccine in pregnancy.

Travel vaccinations in pregnancy

Some vaccines that use live bacteria or viruses are not recommended during pregnancy because the virus or bacteria could harm the baby in the womb. 

It is best to avoid visiting countries or areas where you will need to have vaccinations before you travel. If this is not possible, talk to your GP or a travel nurse. They can explain any risks and benefits of the vaccinations you need.  

If you are going to a country where there is a high chance of getting an infection, such as yellow fever, it may be safer to have the live vaccine than to travel unprotected.

The NHS website has more information about having travel vaccinations during pregnancy

NHS. Getting a 1st and 2nd dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. (Page last reviewed: 21 March 2023. Next review due: 21 March 2026)

NHS. Vaccinations in pregnancy. (Page last reviewed: 18 January 2023. Next review due: 18 January2026)

NHS. The flu jab in pregnancy. (Page last reviewed: 5 August 2022. Next review due: 5 August 2025)

UKHSA (2023). COVID-19 vaccination: a guide on pregnancy and breastfeeding. UK Health Security Agency.    

UKHSA (2022). Influenza: the green book, chapter 19. UK Health Security Agency.

UKHSA (2022). Pertussis: the green book, chapter 24. UK Health Security Agency.    

Review dates
Reviewed: 29 June 2023
Next review: 29 June 2026