Health advice

Vaccines in pregnancy

Pregnant mother with daughter feeling her belly.

There is a lot you need to know when it comes to getting vaccinated during pregnancy. There are certain vaccines you need to get to protect your baby. Find out what they are, how to get them and what vaccines you may want to avoid.

What are the different types of vaccine?

Most vaccines are either live or inactivated. Live vaccines contain a small amount of the virus it protects against. This virus is still active but has been weakened. This means it can’t cause serious complications. 1

Inactivated vaccines contain a virus, bacteria or pathogen that has been destroyed. This means they can be safer in immunocompromised or pregnant people. However, they can be less effective in preventing infection. 2

There aren’t many live vaccines that you might have to or want to take. The BCG and MMR vaccines are examples of live vaccines. Inactivated vaccines are more widely used.

Which vaccines are safe during pregnancy?

Inactivated vaccines are safe during pregnancy. There are some vaccines you should get while you’re pregnant, to protect the health of you and your baby. 3

These vaccines are:

  • Flu. It’s especially important to get the flu jab during winter if you’re pregnant. This is because if you’re pregnant and you catch the flu, you’re at a higher risk of complications.
  • COVID-19. If you’re pregnant, you should get the COVID-19 vaccine to protect you and your baby from any serious complications. You can get the COVID-19 vaccine at any stage during your pregnancy.
  • Whooping cough. Getting vaccinated against whooping cough during pregnancy helps protect your baby from developing it after they’re born. Whooping cough can be very serious in young babies. You should get the whooping cough vaccine between 16-32 weeks of pregnancy.3,4

If you’re pregnant, these vaccines will be free. Talk to your GP to arrange an appointment.

Which vaccines are not recommended during pregnancy?

You should usually avoid getting a live vaccine while you’re pregnant. This is because there’s a small risk your baby can become infected.3

However, there may be situations where the benefits of getting a live vaccine may outweigh any risks. It’s important to talk to your midwife, GP or pharmacist if you think you may need a vaccine that isn’t listed above.3

Some examples of live vaccines are:

  • Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)
  • BCG (for tuberculosis)
  • Oral polio
  • Oral typhoid
  • Yellow fever.3
Are travel vaccines safe during pregnancy?

If you can, avoid going to areas where you need a travel vaccine while you’re pregnant. If you can’t change your travel plans and you’re entering a high-risk area, talk to your midwife or GP. It may be safer for you to get the vaccine, even if it’s a live vaccine.3

Visit your nearest pharmacy

Get support and advice from your local Well pharmacist

Where can I go for further information and support


National charity for pregnancy, childbirth and parenting with a helpline and local support groups.

NHS Website

Information about pregnancy, including how to have a healthy pregnancy and manage common conditions.

NHS Inform

Information and support if you live in Scotland.


Charity with information and support around health during pregnancy.

  1. Plitnick LM. Chapter 9 - Global Regulatory Guidelines for Vaccines. In: Plitnick LM, Herzyk DJ, eds. Nonclinical Development of Novel Biologics, Biosimilars, Vaccines and Specialty Biologics. Academic Press; 2013:225-241. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-394810-6.00009-5
  2. Clem AS. Fundamentals of Vaccine Immunology. J Glob Infect Dis. 2011;3(1):73-78. doi:10.4103/0974-777X.77299
  3. Vaccinations in pregnancy. Published December 9, 2020. Accessed August 15, 2023.
  4. Vaccinations in Pregnancy: Are They Safe? | Tommy’s. Accessed August 15, 2023.

Reviewed by: Connie Whewall

Published: 30 April 2024

Next review: 30 April 2027