Respiratory viruses are as common among pregnant women as other women. For most people, this will pass on its own without any treatment other than extra rest.
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 might be due to changes in your immune system and the fact that your heart and lungs are under a greater strain as the child you are carrying is growing.
If you become seriously ill, this will also pose a danger to the foetus. If other risk factors apply to you, such as a multiple pregnancy or existing health condition, the risk increases further during the entire pregnancy.
The influenza, Covid and whopping cough vaccines will protect both you and your child. Vaccination during pregnancy will also protect the child after birth, which is important, as infants have a greater risk of developing serious illness and complications from respiratory infections than older children and adults.
Whooping cough vaccine for pregnant women
The whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine is recommended to pregnant women in the 2nd and 3rd trimester, regardless of when they were last vaccinated, and in every pregnancy.
By vaccinating pregnant women in the latter half of pregnancy, the woman produces antibodies against the pertussis bacteria. These antibodies are transferred to the fetus towards the end of the pregnancy. 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 are old enough to 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.
During the first half of 2024, pregnant women in Norway will be offered the whooping cough vaccine free of charge.
Influenza vaccine for pregnant women
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (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)
In order to get 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 as long as the influenza virus is circulating.
The influenza vaccine is administered as one dose and contains only fragments of the influenza virus, salts and water. The vaccine does not cause influenza as a disease.
Covid vaccination for pregnant women
- Basic vaccination for all pregnant women.
- A booster vaccine for pregnant women in the second and third trimester where more than 20 weeks have passed since the previous vaccine dose.
- A booster vaccine in the third trimester if the pregnant woman has an existing health condition.
There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including Covid vaccines, cause fertility problems (problems trying to get pregnant). It is therefore not necessary to wait to try for pregnancy until after vaccination. This also applies to planned or ongoing fertility treatments, such as IVF.
The vaccines protect mother and child
The vaccines have demonstrated their efficacy in preventing serious illness for mother and child without increasing the risk of complications such as abortion, 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 vaccines are recommended for those who are pregnant.
There is no evidence that the vaccines affect fertility in women, and mRNA vaccines do not affect the mother or the foetus throughout the pregnancy.
Side effects from the influenza and Covid vaccines
The 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 will pass within one to two days.
Some people experience menstrual irregularities after receiving the Covid vaccine, but this has not been observed in pregnant women.
Can I get a flu vaccine and a Covid vaccine at the same time?
The Covid vaccine can be given at the same time as the influenza vaccine, as long as they are not administered in the same arm.