Immunisations in pregnancy

When you’re pregnant you’ll be offered immunisations to protect your baby from infectious diseases like whooping cough and flu.

These will offer protection to your baby for the first few months of their life, until their immunisations start at 8 weeks old.

Recommended vaccinations

Pregnant women should have the:

  • flu vaccine - at any stage in your pregnancy to get ready for flu season (October to March)
  • whooping cough vaccine - from week 16 of each pregnancy

Seasonal flu vaccine

Having flu while you’re pregnant can affect you more because your immune system is weakened. Flu can sometimes cause serious problems, including:

  • early labour
  • low birth weight
  • stillbirth

The flu vaccine's the best way to protect yourself and your baby against flu. The Royal College of Midwives recommends all pregnant women should have the free flu vaccine with every pregnancy.

The vaccine:

  • doesn’t have any live virus in it, so can’t give you flu
  • is safe for you and your baby at any stage of pregnancy

Whooping cough vaccine

Whooping cough can be especially serious for babies less than a year old. It can lead to pneumonia and brain damage.

Babies who are too young for routine immunisations are at greatest risk from whooping cough.

You can help protect your baby in their first weeks by having the whooping cough vaccine while you’re pregnant. It’s best to have it as soon as you can after week 16 of your pregnancy. Having the vaccine after 32 weeks won’t give your baby the same level of protection.

Talk to your midwife or GP for more information and where to get immunisations in your area.

More about the whooping cough vaccine

Translations and alternative formats of this information are available from Public Health Scotland.

Also on NHS inform