How will I feel after vaccination?

Most women have no reaction to vaccination. Some have mild reactions that last between 12 and 24 hours and are easily treated at home. 

If the symptoms last longer than a couple of days, or if you are worried about how you feel after your vaccination, you can get help from:

  • your doctor
  • your nearest emergency department
  • or by calling Health Direct n 1800 022 222.

 

Mild reactions

The reactions pregnant women have to vaccination are similar to those of adults who are not pregnant. Most have no reaction at all; a small number may experience redness or soreness at the needle injection site, a fever of less than 38.5°C or a headache. These reactions are usually quite mild and will get better on their own within a day or two. If you have a reaction to a vaccine, there are a few things you can do to make yourself more comfortable.

Redness and soreness at the spot where the needle went in

Some women get some redness and soreness at the spot where the needle went in1 (this is called a ‘local reaction’).

  • Around three in 100 women who have an influenza vaccination during pregnancy experience a local reaction1.
  • Around seven in 100 women who have a whooping cough vaccination during pregnancy experience a local reaction1.

The redness and soreness will get better in a day or two. In the meantime, you can place a cool, damp cloth on the spot to soothe it, and you can take an over-the-counter pain medication, such as paracetamol, if you feel you need one. You should check with your doctor before taking any other pain medications.

Headache

Some women experience a headache after vaccination1.

  • Around four in 100 women experience a headache after having an influenza vaccination1.
  • Around three in 100 women experience a headache after having a whooping cough vaccination1.

The headache will get better by itself, but you can take an over-the-counter pain medication, such as paracetamol, if you feel you need one.

Fever

Some women develop a fever of 38.5°C or less1. A high fever (above 39°) is very uncommon.

  • Around two in 100 women experience a fever of around 38 degrees or less after having an influenza vaccination1.
  • Around two in 100 women experience a fever of around 38 degrees or less after having a whooping cough vaccination1.

If you have a fever after your vaccination, drink plenty of water and consider using some paracetamol to help bring the temperature down.

Rare but serious reactions

Serious reactions to either influenza or whooping cough vaccination during pregnancy are rare. When they do occur, they are usually resolved with treatment from healthcare professionals or at a hospital, with both mother and baby returning to full health.

Anaphylaxis

A very small number of people have a severe allergic reaction to vaccines called ‘anaphylaxis’, where they can develop swelling, hives, breathing difficulties, lowered blood pressure and in severe cases, shock. Anaphylactic reactions are very rare – they occur in about one in a million people who have a vaccination2.Midwives, nurses and GPs are trained to respond to an anaphylactic reaction with quick delivery of adrenaline.

Other serious reactions

A very small number of women experience a reaction serious enough to require them to attend a hospital emergency department1. 

  • Around three in 1,000 women attended a hospital emergency department after an influenza vaccination1.
  • Around three in 1,000 women attended a hospital emergency department after a whooping cough vaccination1.

Follow-up with those women indicated that all symptoms resolved and that both mother and baby remained healthy.

If your symptoms last longer than a couple of days, or if you are worried about how you feel after your vaccination, you can get help from your doctor, or your nearest emergency department, or by calling Health Direct on 1800 022 222.

  1. Regan AK, Tracey LE, Blyth CC, Richmond PC, Effler PV. A prospective cohort study assessing the reactogenicity of pertussis and influenza vaccines administered during pregnancy. Vaccine. 2016;34(20):2299-304.
  2. McNeil MM, Weintraub ES, Duffy J, Sukumaran L, Jacobsen SJ, Klein NP, et al. Risk of anaphylaxis after vaccination in children and adults. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2016;137(3):868-78. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2015.07.048