Whooping cough​1​ and flu​2​ vaccinations are recommended during pregnancy, but what impact will this have with gestational diabetes?

Pertussis or whooping cough is a highly infectious disease which can lead to serious complications including death. The disease is especially severe in newborn babies and is a major cause of infant death worldwide.​3​

Pertussis (Whooping Cough), Vaccine Knowledge Project, Oxford Vaccine Group

Influenza (flu) is a very common and highly infectious disease caused by a virus. It is much more severe than the common cold and results in at least 2-3 days in bed. Catching flu in pregnancy can lead to increased risks for both pregnant women and their babies.

Flu vaccine in pregnancy, Vaccine Knowledge Project, Oxford Vaccine Group

Whooping cough vaccination

You are entitled to a free whooping cough vaccination in the UK from 16 weeks, up to 32 weeks​1,4​ (although it can be given as late as 38 weeks). The reason for having this is to protect your baby between birth and immunisation​5,6​. The program was rolled out in 2012​7​ as there had been a significant increase in newborn deaths caused by whooping cough​8​.

Enquire at your local GP surgery if you have not had your whooping cough vaccination.

For the Irish ladies living in the Republic of Ireland, from what we’ve been told, the whooping cough vaccination itself is free but you have to pay the doctor for administering it, as its not covered by Medical or GP cards or the National Maternity care. (This information has been provided was from Irish mothers in our Facebook support group).

Flu vaccination

The flu vaccine is normally available from September until around January or February each year​9​. It is free for all pregnant women in the UK.

If you’re eligible for the vaccine, try to have it as soon as possible so that you’ll be protected by the time the flu viruses are circulating in the winter. Don’t worry if you find that you’re pregnant later on in the flu season though, you can have the vaccine then if you haven’t already had it.

Can I have the flu jab at the same time as the whooping cough vaccine?

Yes, you can have the whooping cough and flu vaccination at the same time, but don’t delay your flu jab simply so you can have both at the same time.

Pregnant women are at risk of severe illness from flu at any stage of pregnancy, and so really need to have the flu vaccine as soon as possible. You won’t be offered the whooping cough vaccine until you are between 16 and 32 weeks pregnant (although it can be given up to 38 weeks pregnant).

Blood glucose levels following the vaccinations

The injections themselves should not effect your blood glucose levels, but you may get a slightly raised temperature as a side effect (which in itself could cause slightly higher blood sugar levels). 

The injections leave a red sore lump for a few days and your arm may be stiff (the whooping cough vaccine leaves a bigger lump), so aim for the side which you don’t sleep on.  Some practices may advise having the vaccinations in different arms so that they can easily identify which vaccination went in which arm, should you have an allergic reaction.


whooping cough and flu vaccinations


  1. 1.
    Pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine in pregnancy. Vaccine Knowledge Project, Oxford Vaccine Group. Published September 9, 2019. Accessed September 22, 2020. http://vk.ovg.ox.ac.uk/pertussis-vaccine-in-pregnancy
  2. 2.
    Flu vaccine in pregnancy. Vaccine Knowledge Project, Oxford Vaccine Group. Published September 9, 2019. Accessed September 22, 2020. http://vk.ovg.ox.ac.uk/vk/flu-vaccine-pregnancy
  3. 3.
    Pertussis (Whooping Cough). Vaccine Knowledge Project (Oxford Vaccine Group). Published July 17, 2020. Accessed September 22, 2020. https://vk.ovg.ox.ac.uk/vk/pertussis-whooping-cough
  4. 4.
    Whooping cough vaccination in pregnancy. NHS. Published October 2019. Accessed September 22, 2020. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/whooping-cough-vaccination-pregnant/
  5. 5.
    D’Heilly C, Switzer C, Macina D. Safety of Maternal Immunization Against Pertussis: A Systematic Review. Infect Dis Ther. 2019;8(4):543-568. doi:10.1007/s40121-019-00265-6
  6. 6.
    Furuta M, Sin J, Ng E, Wang K. Efficacy and safety of pertussis vaccination for pregnant women – a systematic review of randomised controlled trials and observational studies. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2017;17(1):390. doi:10.1186/s12884-017-1559-2
  7. 7.
    Sharp rise in whooping cough cases. NHS. Published April 13, 2012. Accessed September 22, 2020. https://www.nhs.uk/news/pregnancy-and-child/sharp-rise-in-whooping-cough-cases/
  8. 8.
    Kardas-Nelson M. Despite high rates of vaccination, pertussis cases are on the rise. Is a new vaccination strategy needed? BMJ. Published online July 9, 2019:l4460. doi:10.1136/bmj.l4460
  9. 9.
    The flu jab in pregnancy. NHS. Published September 2019. Accessed September 22, 2020. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/flu-jab-vaccine-pregnant/