​​​​​​​​​​​​Get a free influenza vaccine (flu shot)​

Influenza can be serious for pregnant women and their baby. Flu shots are free for all pregnant women. Book an appointment for a flu shot with your doctor, pharmacist or Aboriginal Medical Service as soon as possible. Some providers may charge an administration or consultation fee. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if this applies to you.

A flu shot is the best way to protect you from influenza and its complications during pregnancy. A flu shot can also protect infants against influenza during the first six months of life because protective antibodies are passed from the mother to the baby during pregnancy. Flu shots are safe for both mother and baby and can be given at any stage of pregnancy. 

People such as family members who regularly come in contact with pregnant women are recommended to also get a flu shot. This will help protect pregnant women as they are higher risk of serious flu and its complications.

Practice healthy hygiene 

To protect yourself and others from flu, you can do the following:

  • Stay at home if you’re sick with cold and flu symptoms. If you need to leave home when you are sick, wear a mask and avoid contact with people at higher risk of severe illness.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick. Wear a mask if you are unable to physically distance from other people in crowded indoor spaces.
  • Wash your hands often. Use soap and water and wash for 20 seconds. When you can’t wash your hands with soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser, especially after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. 
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and sneeze into your elbow instead of your hands.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces particularly when people are sick.

Contact your doctor or maternity care provider immediately if you develop influenza symptoms

It is important to protect yourself from getting influenza if you are pregnant. Even if you are generally healthy, changes in immune, heart, and lung functions during pregnancy increase your risk of severe illness if you get influenza.

If you have flu-like symptoms (e.g. fever, cough, body aches, headache and fatigue), even if you have already had a flu shot, call your doctor or maternity care provider right away. Doctors can advise on appropriate treatments for influenza that are safe to use even during pregnancy.

Frequently asked questions

  • The influenza vaccine is safe for both you and your baby when given during pregnancy or when you are planning pregnancy. There is no evidence of any increased risks to women or their babies when the woman is given an influenza vaccine during pregnancy.

    The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) strongly recommends influenza vaccination for pregnant women to protect both the mother and the baby.

  • If you are at any stage of pregnancy you are eligible for a free influenza vaccine under the National Immunisation Program.

     If you are pregnant or planning pregnancy, speak with your doctor or maternity care provider about the best time for you to get your influenza vaccination. Women should be vaccinated against influenza each time they are pregnant.

    • Drink plenty of fluids
    • Take paracetamol if you feel unwell, to help with symptoms. Ibuprofen is not recommended to take while you are pregnant
    • Remain hydrated and mobilise regularly to reduce your risk of developing blood clots. If you have a history of blood clots or are obese, please contact your doctor or maternity care provider to discuss your management options
    • Keep a close eye on your baby's movements. Call your maternity care provider immediately if your baby's movements change or if you experience:
      • vaginal bleeding
      • abdominal pain
      • constant clear watery vaginal discharge
      • contractions any time before 37 weeks
      • persistent fever
      • headaches
      • sudden swelling of your face and hands
      • you are in labour
      • have any serious concerns about your pregnancy
    • Call Triple Zero (000) if you have difficulty breathing, develop chest pressure or pain, have severe headaches or dizziness. Tell ambulance staff that you have influenza and are pregnant
    • Continue your regular antenatal care after recovering from influenza.

    HealthDirect can also provide practical health information and advice on 1800 022 222.

Current as at: Wednesday 10 January 2024
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW