Recommended vaccines during pregnancy

If you are pregnant, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health recommends being vaccinated against whooping cough, influenza and COVID-19, to protect yourself and your baby from serious illness.

Pregnant women can catch respiratory tract infections as often as others. Most people recover from these infections without needing any treatment. 

However, if you are pregnant in the second or third trimester, or if you have recently given birth, you are at greater risk of complications and serious illness than other non-pregnant women of the same age. This may be due to changes in your immune system and increased strain on your heart and lungs as the baby grows. 

If you become seriously ill, this may also harm the foetus. If you also have other risk factors, such as a multiple pregnancy or existing health condition, the risk increases further. This applies throughout the pregnancy.

The whooping cough, influenza, and COVID-19 vaccines will protect both you and your child. Vaccination during pregnancy will also protect your baby after birth. This is important because infants have a greater risk of developing serious illness and complications from respiratory tract infections than older children and adults.

Whooping cough vaccine for pregnant women

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) recommends the whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine for: 

  • Pregnant women, regardless of when they were last vaccinated, and during each pregnancy. The vaccine is offered at the 24-week prenatal check-up, but can also be given later in pregnancy.

Vaccination during pregnancy protects your baby against whooping cough from birth until they receive their first vaccine dose at 3 months old. Pregnant women who take the vaccine produce antibodies against whooping cough that are transferred to the foetus via the placenta. As a result, the newborn child is born with protective antibodies from the mother, which has been shown to prevent severe cases of whooping cough in infants until they receive their first vaccine dose.

Vaccination of pregnant women against whooping cough has not been shown to result in adverse pregnancy outcomes for either the mother or the child.

From May 2024, pregnant women in Norway will be offered the whooping cough vaccine free of charge. One dose of the vaccine is sufficient. The vaccine will be offered at the 24-week prenatal check-up. During the introduction of the immunisation programme, women who are further along in their pregnancy will also be offered the vaccine (catch-up immunisation). The vaccine offered is a combination vaccine that also provides protection against diphtheria and tetanus.

Influenza vaccine for pregnant women 

NIPH recommends the influenza vaccine for: 

  • Pregnant women in the second or third trimester during the influenza season 
  • Pregnant women in the first trimester with other underlying risk factors 
  • Pregnant women in the first trimester who belong to one of the other targeted groups for vaccination (close contacts, pig farmers, healthcare personnel) 

For the best possible protection, you should be vaccinated between October and December when the infection risk is highest. However, you will still benefit from vaccination at any time of year while the influenza virus is circulating. 

The influenza vaccine is given as one dose. The vaccine does not contain live virus parts and therefore cannot cause influenza.

Read more about the influenza vaccine. 

COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant women 

NIPH recommends: 

  • Primary series vaccination for all pregnant women who are not previously vaccinated against COVID-19. 
  • A booster vaccine for pregnant women in the second and third trimester and where more than 20 weeks have passed since the previous COVID-19 vaccine dose. 
  • A booster vaccine in the third trimester if the pregnant woman has an existing health condition. 

Read more about the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Vaccines protect mother and child 

The vaccines have been shown to prevent serious illness for mother and child without increasing the risk of complications such as miscarriage, premature birth or harm to the foetus. When the vaccine is administered in the second or third trimester, the mother will pass on antibodies against the virus to the child. The vaccine thus protects both the mother during the pregnancy and the child after birth against serious illness. For this reason, the influenza and COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for those who are pregnant. The whooping cough vaccine is mainly recommended to protect the newborn child against a severe case of whooping cough.

General side effects from vaccines 

Most vaccines can give 

  • Tenderness, redness and swelling at the injection site 
  • Fever, mild malaise and muscle pain 

Serious side effects and allergic reactions are very rare. 

The side effects are short-lived and pass within one to two days. Each vaccine may have different known side effects, and these are specified in the product information.

There is no evidence that the vaccines recommended for pregnant women affect a woman's fertility, and mRNA vaccines do not affect the course of pregnancy for either the mother or the baby in the womb.

Some people experience menstrual irregularities after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, but no increased bleeding tendency has  been observed in pregnant women.

Menstrual irregularities after vaccination (fhi.no) 

Can I take several vaccines at the same time? 

If more than one vaccine is needed it may be practical to take them at the same time, but in different arms. Speak to your doctor or midwife about which vaccines recommended for pregnant women can be taken together. 

Content provided by Norwegian Institute of Public Health

Norwegian Institute of Public Health. Recommended vaccines during pregnancy . [Internet]. Oslo: The Norwegian Directorate of Health; updated Tuesday, April 9, 2024 [retrieved Sunday, July 21, 2024]. Available from: https://www.helsenorge.no/en/vaksiner-og-vaksinasjon/vaksiner-i-svangerskapet/

Last updated Tuesday, April 9, 2024