Vaccines Before, During and After Pregnancy

Vaccines given before, during and after pregnancy offer a safe and effective way to protect you and your child from certain diseases.

We offer a range of vaccinations recommended by the Irish health authorities for women during this important time. If you have any worries or questions about vaccinations you and your baby may require, please contact reception and make an appointment to see your Doctor or Nurse.


Before Your Pregnancy

MMR Vaccine

The MMR vaccine is a combined vaccine that is a safe and effective way to protect you against measles (M), mumps (M) and rubella (R) in one single injection. Measles, mumps and rubella are highly infectious diseases that can cause serious, and potentially fatal complications such as meningitis, encephalitis (swelling of the brain) and deafness. During pregnancy, rubella can lead to serious complications affecting the unborn baby including deafness, blindness, brain damage or heart disease. It some cases, it can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth.

The MMR vaccine is given in two doses. The first dose is given as part of the childhood immunisation schedule at 12 months, and the second dose is given at four/five years of age as part of the school immunisation programme.

If you are unsure you have received both doses of the vaccine, we can check your immunity and advise if an MMR vaccination is necessary.

Please note: The MMR vaccine is not suitable for women who are pregnant. The MMR is a live vaccine – avoid pregnancy for one month following vaccination.

Useful link

HSE - More information about MMR vaccine

During Your Pregnancy

Vaccines given during pregnancy are a safe and effective way to protect you and your child from certain diseases. They help to protect your baby during the first few weeks of life as the immunity you develop against the disease passes onto your baby in your womb. Vaccines recommended in pregnancy include.

Flu Vaccine

The flu (influenza) vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect you from the influenza virus.

The flu is a highly infectious and acute respiratory (breathing) illness that is caused by the influenza virus. It affects people of all ages and commonly occurs during the winter months.

Getting the flu while pregnant increases your chance of developing complications, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy. A common complication of the flu during pregnancy is bronchitis, a chest infection that could lead to pneumonia. Less common complications include:

It can also lead to premature birth and smaller babies, and may even lead to stillbirth or death during the first week of life.

The flu vaccine changes every year to protect against the strain of flu virus going around that year. It can be given to you safely at any time during pregnancy and poses no risk to women who are breastfeeding, or to their babies.

Flu vaccination during pregnancy also provides immunity against the flu virus for babies in the first six months of life.

Useful Link

HSE - More information about flu vaccine during pregnancy


Whooping Cough Vaccine

The whooping cough (pertussis) vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect your child from getting whooping cough during the first few weeks of life. The immunity you get from the vaccination will be passed onto your baby in the womb and will provide passive protection until they are old enough to be vaccinated against the whooping cough at two months old, as part of the childhood immunisation schedule.

Whooping cough is a highly contagious illness that can be life-threatening. Young babies (under six months old) with whooping cough are often hospitalised with severe complications such as pneumonia or brain damage.

But you can help your baby by getting vaccinated from weeks 27 to 36 of your pregnancy. This vaccination will maximise your baby’s protection against whooping cough from birth. 

We protect against the whooping cough with the Tdap vaccine – tetanus (T), diphtheria (d) and acellular pertussis (ap) booster vaccine which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough. It is given in one single injection.

If you miss having the vaccination for any reason, you can still have it up until you go into labour, although your baby is less likely to get protection from you. Having the vaccination at this stage protects you from getting whooping cough and passing it onto your baby.

Women should vaccinate against whooping cough during each pregnancy as immunity to whooping cough can decrease over time.


After Your Pregnancy

Whooping Cough Vaccine

Vaccination against whooping cough can also be of value after delivery as it can protect you from catching whooping cough and passing it on to your baby. However, the greatest benefit to your baby remains in getting vaccinated during your pregnancy. If you vaccinate against whooping cough after your baby is born, you cannot pass antibodies to them for protection in their first few months.

Useful Link

HSE - More information about whooping cough vaccine after pregnancy


MMR Vaccine

During pregnancy, your immunity to rubella is regularly checked by your Doctor. If we find you are not immune to Rubella, the MMR vaccine is recommended. Although the MMR vaccine is safe to give while you are breastfeeding, it is a live vaccine and pregnancy must be avoided for one month following vaccination.

Useful Link

HSE - More information about MMR vaccine


Content developed from HSE and NHS Choices
is adapted for Briarhill Family Practice by Briarhill Family Practice.

Paul Cotter

Bad Dog, 16 Seapoint, Barna, Galway