Immunisation and pregnancy
When you’re pregnant, it’s strongly recommended you’re immunised against whooping cough, flu and COVID-19.
Vaccinations you need if you’re planning a pregnancy
It’s recommended you’re up to date with all your immunisations if you’re planning a pregnancy. It’s particularly important to know if you’re immune to measles, rubella and chickenpox. You cannot have these immunisations when you become pregnant, and they can cause harm to you and your developing baby.
Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine
Chickenpox (varicella) vaccine
Vaccinations you need while you’re pregnant
Some diseases are riskier while you’re pregnant. You can protect yourself and your pēpi (baby) while you’re pregnant by getting 3 free vaccines.
While the vaccines do not affect your pēpi, you will naturally pass on some of your immunity. This means when they’re born, they will have some protection until they’re old enough to be immunised themselves. This is especially important for whooping cough.
Whooping cough vaccine (Boostrix)
My name is Hannah. I'm 25 and I live in Wellington with my partner, Sam, and our daughter, named Marnie, is 22 months old, and I'm currently pregnant with my son.
When I talk to my midwife about vaccinations, she had a pamphlet for me that had all of the information about the various vaccinations, or immunisations, that are available to you throughout pregnancy.
Both of my pregnancies have sort of been the same time of year and I've timed the flu vaccination with the winter months because of flu season.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I waited to have my whooping cough vaccination just because the protection can go through to baby.
So this baby, I am getting the whooping cough vaccination which is scheduled, I think, for next week. Again, to make sure that he has as much protection as I can give him.
With Marnie, it really was for me just following what the guidelines were. Whereas with this pregnancy, I'm more so inclined because I've witnessed having one daughter that you really just can't control what they're exposed to.
I think that it gives me the confidence that I've done the most that I can do as a parent to limit exposure for my children.
It's not to say that they won't get sick, but I do believe that if they are catching various illnesses, they will hopefully have a less sinister reaction to them.
The flu vaccine is free if you're pregnant and the reason that we encourage wāhine who are pregnant to get their flu vaccine is because, when you're pregnant, your body changes.
So our immune system lowers to allow the baby to grow inside us.
Also, as baby grows, our lungs get squashed up and so if you've ever had a cold or a flu when you're pregnant it's harder to breathe.
All these factors mean that when you are pregnant if you get the flu you can become more unwell.
Getting the flu vaccine while you're pregnant will pass some of your immunity onto baby and give them protection from the flu when they're little.
I really like to encourage pregnant women to get the flu vaccine early so that as we go into winter there's less chance of you getting sick from the flu.
Vaccinations for māma and whānau after your pēpi is born
Newborn babies are very vulnerable until they’re fully immunised. All members of a whānau being fully vaccinated creates a bubble of protection around pēpi.
If you were not immunised against some diseases before or during pregnancy, you can get them after your pēpi is born. It’s important you, and your whānau, do this so your baby is protected until they are old enough to be immunised themselves.
After your baby is born, it may be recommended that you have a free measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) immunisation. You should do this as soon as you can.
If a vaccination has been missed, don’t worry, most vaccinations can be caught up. If you’re unsure if you or your whānau are up to date with your vaccinations, contact your doctor, nurse, or healthcare provider.
All vaccines on the National Immunisation Schedule are free and safe while breastfeeding.
Booking a vaccine
You can book all your pregnancy immunisations online through Book My Vaccine.
You can also book over the phone by calling 0800 28 29 26 — 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week.
If you would prefer, you can also contact your usual doctor or healthcare provider to book a vaccination appointment.
Getting ready for your baby’s first immunisations
Your baby’s first immunisations are due at 6 weeks. Make it easy and enrol them with a doctor early.
If you need help with enrolment, your midwife, the hospital, or your Well Child Tamariki Ora nurse can help you enrol your child with a doctor, or to access immunisations through another healthcare provider.
If you cannot find a doctor to enrol your child, call:
- Healthline any time on 0800 611 116 (translators are available), or
- PlunketLine any time on 0800 933 922.
They can help connect you with a local immunisation service.