There are several vaccinations that are very key when it comes to either the pre pregnancy period or pregnancy itself.


The pre pregnancy period is the time to vaccinate women against conditions such as varicella (commonly known as chicken pox) and rubella. Both of these infections can cause issues for the baby in pregnancy and so if the mother is not immune before conception she can be vaccinated if she chooses. Women who see their GP prior to getting pregnant will usually have blood tests to check an array of things – one of them is rubella immunity (and sometimes varicella immunity if the patient is unsure if they have had chicken pox). Both varicella and rubella vaccines are live and so cannot be given once a woman is pregnant.


If a woman is going to be pregnant during influenza season (flu season tends to run from May to September in Australia) it is strongly recommended she receive a Government funded flu vaccine. Pregnant women are more likely to suffer from complications such as pneumonia due to changes in the immune system. The flu vaccine is safe in pregnancy.


Whooping cough is the other vaccine to think about in late pregnancy. Pertussis (AKA whooping cough) can be fatal for newborns and so the mother is ideally vaccinated in late pregnancy to protect the newborn by transferring some of the antibodies produced to the baby via the placenta. The current recommendation is to have the vaccine between 20 and 32 weeks of pregnancy. The Government funds this vaccine and so it is available free of charge for women (and in some states their unvaccinated partners).

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