Tommy's PregnancyHub

Vaccinations in pregnancy

You will be offered a whooping cough and flu vaccination during pregnancy to keep your baby safe during pregnancy and for a short while after they are born

Whooping cough vaccine in pregnancy

What is whooping cough?

Whooping cough (pertussis) is a respiratory infection that develops into severe coughing fits. This illness can be very severe, especially in very young babies. The number of cases of whooping cough in the UK has risen among babies who are too young to have had their vaccinations.

Because of this, the Department of Health developed a vaccine for pregnant women to protect their babies against this illness until they are old enough to have their first vaccinations.

When should I be offered the whooping cough vaccine?

You will be offered the whooping cough vaccine by your GP or midwife.

All pregnant women should be offered the whooping cough vaccine between 16 and 32 weeks of pregnancy, although it can be given right up until you go into labour.

You will be offered this vaccination to boost your antibodies. These antibodies will be passed to your baby through the placenta.

As there is no whooping cough-only vaccine, the vaccine you'll be given also protects against polio, diphtheria and tetanus. The vaccine is called Boostrix IPV.

Comprehensive research into the vaccine has shown that it's very safe, with no ill-effects for pregnant women or their babies.

Is the whooping cough vaccine safe?

Comprehensive research into the vaccine has shown that it's very safe, with no ill-effects for pregnant women or their babies.

Flu vaccine in pregnancy

If you’re pregnant in winter, you will be offered a flu vaccine. There is evidence that pregnant women can be more at risk of developing complications if you get flu during pregnancy. To cut this risk for you and your baby’s health, women are offered a free flu jab, usually sometime between September and February.

The vaccine doesn't contain any live viruses, so it can't cause flu. 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 on the NHS.

Is the flu vaccine safe?

Research shows that the flu vaccine is safe from the first few weeks of pregnancy right up to your due date. You can read more about the research and safety behind the flu vaccine.

Travel vaccinations in pregnancy

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

It’s best to avoid visiting countries or areas where you’ll need to have vaccinations before you travel.

If for any reason this isn’t possible, talk to your GP or midwife. They can outline any risks and benefits of the vaccinations you need. If there is a high risk of infection in the place you’re going to, it’s often safer to have a vaccine rather than travel unprotected.

1. Public Health England:Vaccination against pertussis (Whooping cough) for pregnant women-2016 Information for healthcare professionals; 2016 

2. NHS Choices Whooping cough vaccination in pregnancy (Page last reviewed 22/09/2016 Next review due: 22/09/2019)

3. NHS Choices: The flu jab in pregnancy (Page last reviewed 25/08/2016 Next review due: 31/08/2019  25/8/16

4. NHS Choices: Can I have vaccinations when I’m pregnant? (Page last reviewed 08/11/2016 Next review due: 31/08/11/2019)


Review dates
Reviewed: 06 July 2018
Next review: 06 July 2021

This content is currently being reviewed by our team. Updated information will be coming soon.