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Vaccines you need before you get pregnant

If you are planning to get pregnant, your vaccinations should be up to date. This is important for your health and for your baby's health.

MMR vaccine

Make sure you are protected from rubella (German measles).

To be considered protected, you'll need proof you've had at least 1 measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. If you do not have proof, talk to your GP. They'll arrange a blood test to check if you are immune.

If you are not immune, you need to get the MRR vaccine. The MMR vaccine is the only way to protect your baby from rubella.

Ireland is thought to be free of endemic rubella. But the virus still exists in other countries. You could still get it if it returns to Ireland.

When to get the vaccine

You must get the vaccine at least 1 month before you get pregnant.

MMR is a live vaccine. It cannot be given during pregnancy.

Avoid getting pregnant for 1 month after you get the vaccine.

Rubella during pregnancy

Rubella is an infection caused by the rubella virus. You can get infected from coughing and sneezing, or being in close contact with someone who has rubella.

It is most infectious when there is a rash. But it can also be spread up to 7 days before a rash appears.

Rubella usually clears up in 7 to 10 days. It usually causes a mild illness in most children and adults.

Rubella infection during pregnancy may cause miscarriage or stillbirth.

9 out of 10 babies who develop rubella infection will also have birth defects such as deafness, blindness, brain damage or heart disease. This is called congenital rubella syndrome.

Congenital rubella syndrome

Vaccination is the only way to prevent congenital rubella syndrome.

If you do become infected with rubella in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, there is no treatment that will prevent congenital rubella syndrome. This is why it is so important to make sure you are vaccinated with the MMR vaccine.

The earlier in your pregnancy that you get rubella infection, the greater the risk of congenital rubella syndrome. The risk is highest in the first 20 weeks of your pregnancy. After this time, birth defects are rare.

Vaccines you need during pregnancy

COVID-19 vaccine

You can get the COVID-19 vaccine before or during pregnancy.

Pregnancy and the COVID-19 vaccine

Page last reviewed: 2 June 2022
Next review due: 2 June 2025