Immunisation and pregnancy

Protecting your pēpi (baby) starts before you become pregnant. 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 because you can't have these immunisations while you’re pregnant, and because of the harm these diseases can cause to you and developing babies.

Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine

It’s very important you've had 2 doses of the MMR vaccine at least a month before getting pregnant.

Measles during pregnancy can make you very sick, and can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and premature delivery.

Rubella can cause serious birth defects in your baby (such as deafness, heart defects, and brain damage).

To check whether you've been vaccinated, contact your doctor, nurse, or healthcare provider and ask if you've had 2 doses of the MMR vaccine.

If you’re unable to find out if you've been vaccinated, it’s recommended you get vaccinated as soon as possible. This will be free. There’s no risk in getting extra MMR doses – it’s important to know you’ve had 2 doses.

You are not able to have an MMR vaccine while you’re pregnant.

Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine

Chickenpox (varicella) vaccine

Chickenpox during pregnancy can harm your unborn child and may cause stillbirth.

If you’re not able to find out if you’ve had chickenpox, or if you haven’t been vaccinated, it’s strongly recommended you get a chickenpox vaccine before becoming pregnant. This will cost around $70.

You are not able to have a chickenpox vaccine while you’re pregnant.

Chickenpox 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 recommended vaccines.

While the vaccines do not affect your pēpi (baby), 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.

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 33 weeks 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 until after 28 weeks to have my whooping cough vaccination just because the protection can go through to baby if you wait until the third trimester.

So this baby, I am getting the whooping cough vaccination which is scheduled, I think, for next week. I've waited until into my third trimester 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.

Tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough vaccine (Boostrix)

You can get this free immunisation from 16 weeks of every pregnancy.

It protects your baby against whooping cough which can be very dangerous to newborns.

By getting immunised when you’re pregnant you’ll protect your pēpi until they can have their immunisations when they’re 6 weeks old.

Tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough vaccine (Boostrix)

Flu vaccine

You can get a free flu vaccination at any stage of your pregnancy.

If you catch the flu when you’re pregnant, you’re at greater risk of getting pneumonia and are more likely to be hospitalised.

Flu also increases the chance of complications for your baby, such as early birth, miscarriage, stillbirth, and lower birth weights.

Flu vaccine

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.

COVID-19 vaccine

If you’re not up to date, you can get a free COVID-19 vaccination at any stage of your pregnancy.

Pregnant people can get really sick from COVID-19. Being vaccinated against COVID-19 means you’re far less likely to fall seriously ill. It also protects your pēpi as there’s evidence that babies can get antibodies through the placenta that help protect them from COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccines

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.

Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine

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.

National Immunisation Schedule

Booking a vaccine

Contact your usual doctor, nurse, pharmacy, or healthcare provider to book a vaccination appointment.

Booking a vaccination appointment

COVID-19 and flu immunisations can be booked:

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 can’t find a doctor to enroll your child, call:

They can help connect you with a local immunisation service.

Immunisation for babies and toddlers