Updated advice on Pertussis immunisation in pregnancy

04 September 2019

This information on Pertussis immunisation in pregnancy reflects updated recommendations in the Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th Edition (updated March 2019).1

Current data suggests pertussis vaccination during pregnancy (with the reduced antigen content dTpa formulation) is more effective in reducing the risk of pertussis in young infants than vaccination of the mother postpartum.  This is due to direct passive protection of the newborn by transplacental transfer of high levels of pertussis antibodies from the vaccinated woman to the fetus. As pertussis antibody levels do not peak until approximately 2 weeks after vaccination and wane over time, and active transport of maternal antibody to the fetus occurs predominantly from 30 weeks gestation, the optimal time for vaccination is between mid 2nd trimester and early 3rd trimester (between 20 and 32 weeks). However, the vaccine can be given at any time during the third trimester up to delivery. Women vaccinated prior to 20 weeks gestation do not need repeat vaccination in the same pregnancy. Evidence shows transfer of pertussis antibodies to the infant in women who received dTpa vaccine as early as 13 weeks gestation.2

Due to the waning of pertussis antibody levels, vaccination is recommended with each pregnancy to provide maximal protection to every infant.

For any pregnancy where antenatal vaccination does not occur, vaccination during the postpartum period, as soon as possible after delivery of the infant (preferably before hospital discharge), will reduce the likelihood of pertussis occurring in the mother and thus provide some indirect protection to the infant.


  1. Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI). Australian Immunisation Handbook, Australian Government Department of Health, Canberra, 2018, Available at:
  2. Eberhardt CS, Blanchard-Rohner G, Lemaitre B, et al. Maternal immunization earlier in pregnancy maximizes antibody transfer and expected infant seropositivity against pertussis. Clinical Infectious Diseases 2016;62:829–36.


Women's Health

Updated advice on Pertussis immunisation in pregnancy

Updated advice on timing of Pertussis immunisation in pregnancy in line with the Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th Edition (updated March 2019).