There are 2 vaccines you should get during pregnancy:
- whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine
- flu vaccine
You should also get a COVID-19 vaccine to protect yourself from the virus if you are not already vaccinated.
Getting these vaccines means you'll be protected against COVID-19 and immune to the flu and whooping cough. You'll also protect your child while they're in your womb and for the first few months of their life.
You can get the flu and whooping cough vaccines from your GP at the same time. You can also get the flu vaccine from your pharmacist.
Evidence shows COVID-19 vaccines are safe for you and your baby and protect you from getting very unwell.
Most pregnant women who get COVID-19 get mild to moderate symptoms. They give birth as planned and the risk of passing on COVID-19 to their baby is low.
But you are more likely to get very unwell and need treatment in intensive care than a woman who is not pregnant. The virus may also cause complications for your baby.
Whooping cough vaccine
You should get the vaccine:
- during each pregnancy
- between week 16 and 36 of your pregnancy (you can have it after 36 weeks but it's less effective)
Whooping cough (also known as pertussis) is highly contagious and can be life-threatening for babies.
Babies with whooping cough may have to stay in the hospital. Complications for your baby can include pneumonia and brain damage.
The whooping cough vaccine is provided by the HSE to all pregnant women free of charge.
The vaccine cannot give you whooping cough - it does not contain any live bacteria.
Whooping cough vaccine side-effects
Side-effects are usually mild. They may include:
- soreness or redness around the injection site
- mild fever and fatigue for up to 48 hours
Take paracetamol if you have a temperature after the vaccine.
If you cannot get the whooping cough vaccine or your baby is born early (before 32 weeks):
- make sure all other children and adults in the house are vaccinated
- ask relatives and friends not to visit if they have a cough
Getting the flu increases the risk of complications during your pregnancy and birth. The flu can lead to premature birth, smaller babies and stillbirth.
The flu vaccine can reduce the risk of stillbirth by over 50%. Getting the vaccine during pregnancy also protects your baby after birth. It reduces your baby’s risk of being admitted to hospital due to the flu.
You can get the flu vaccine safely at any time during pregnancy. Flu season in Ireland usually lasts from October to the end of April. If you're pregnant during these months, you should get the flu vaccine.
The flu vaccine is free for pregnant women. A consultation fee no longer applies.
Side effects can include:
- redness or swelling where the injection was given
- mild sweating and shivering
These symptoms disappear in 1 or 2 days without needing treatment. Serious side effects are very rare.
It's important for you and your baby that you avoid having a fever. Take paracetamol if you start to develop a fever - it's safe to take while pregnant if you follow the directions. Never take aspirin or ibuprofen unless advised by your obstetrician.