Antenatal immunisation

The Australian Immunisation Handbook (external site), provides complete guidance for vaccination during pregnancy.

  • Immunisation against pertussis and influenza is strongly recommended during pregnancy to protect your patient and their babies against these serious infections.
  • Other inactivated vaccines are not routinely recommended during pregnancy but may be considered in special circumstances.
  • Live attenuated vaccines are not to be given during pregnancy.

For more information:

Pertussis (whooping cough) immunisation

Pertussis-containing (dTpa) vaccine is recommended as a single dose during the second or third trimester of each pregnancy, including pregnancies which are closely spaced (e.g. <2 years). The optimal time to vaccinate antenatal patients with dTpa is between mid 2nd trimester and early 3rd trimester of each pregnancy (ideally at 20 and 32 weeks).

More information can be found at the Australian Immunisation Handbook, Pertussis chapter (external site).

Why is it important to be vaccinated against pertussis?

Pertussis vaccination in pregnancy works in two ways:

  • It helps protect the mother – Pertussis vaccine reduces the risk of the pregnant person catching whooping cough and passing it to their newborn baby. Parents are a common source of whooping cough infection for children under 12 months old.
  • It helps protect the baby – Babies born to mothers who have had a pertussis vaccine in pregnancy have higher levels of antibodies against the disease than babies whose mothers were not vaccinated. This is because the antibodies made by the mother in response to the vaccine are passed to the baby across the placenta soon after vaccination and until delivery. The mother's antibodies can help protect the newborn during the first months of life when they are most vulnerable to severe pertussis infection and still too young to be vaccinated themselves.

Is the pertussis vaccine safe in pregnancy?

Pertussis vaccine has been used routinely in pregnant women in the UK and the US since 2012 and careful vaccine monitoring of this practice indicates that the vaccine is safe for pregnant people and their unborn babies.

In addition, large studies from the US and the UK looking at birth outcomes following pertussis vaccination during pregnancy have found no evidence of increased risk for stillbirth, premature birth, death of the baby within 28 days of birth, fetal distress, caesarean delivery or low birth weight.

Influenza immunisation

Pregnant people who get sick from influenza are at much higher risk of respiratory complications than other healthy adults, and are twice as likely to be admitted to hospital.

Learn more about influenza immunisation and refer to the Australian Immunisation Handbook, Influenza chapter (external site).

COVID-19 immunisation

Pregnant people have a higher risk of severe illness if they are infected with COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant people with COVID-19. There is also an increased risk of complications for the baby during pregnancy.

Further information is available from:

Learn more about COVID-19 immunisation.

Vaccination in Pregnancy fact sheets

Please share these fact sheets with your antenatal patients to assist with obtaining informed consent and/or sign the Antenatal Immunisation Consent Form. The fact sheets contain information on the vaccines and the diseases they offer protection against.


Written consent is not required to administer the vaccine(s). As with all medical interventions, it is important to obtain appropriate informed consent. You are advised to talk to your patients about the vaccination before administering it. Learn more about Immunisation Provider Information and Resources.

You may choose to use the Antenatal Immunisation Consent Form and Influenza/Pertussis Vaccination in Pregnancy fact sheets to support your practice. WA Department of Health no longer requires completed forms to be sent to the Communicable Disease Control Directorate, please store them as per your organisational requirements.

Last reviewed: 06-11-2023
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