While you’ve anxiously been getting ready for the arrival of your baby, you might have forgotten one of the most important items to ensure their safety: getting vaccinated.
All parents, grandparents, caretakers and anyone else in your family who plan on spending time with your new bundle of joy should make sure their vaccinations are up to date.
Most newborns who catch preventable infections, such as whooping cough and influenza, caught them from inside the home. If someone in the household has a respiratory illness, other members are at risk for getting ill too. Researchers have identified siblings and parents as the most common source of preventable diseases, such as whooping cough infection in young infants, as well as grandparents, caregivers and friends of the family.
“Newborns don’t yet have fully developed immune systems, making them particularly vulnerable to infections,” said Ruben Espinoza, MD, a pediatrician with Banner Children's. “When you get vaccinated, you are not only protecting your own health, but you are also helping form a protective barrier around the baby during their first few months of life when they are not yet fully protected.”
If you plan on being around the new baby, Dr. Espinoza broke down the two most important vaccinations to get and when:
DTaP or Tdap vaccine
Newborns are especially vulnerable to these illnesses during the first six weeks because they're not old enough to be vaccinated. There have been outbreaks of whooping cough which resulted in hospitalizations and infant deaths.
Schedule: Make sure vaccinations are given at least two weeks before meeting baby. Learn more about the Tdap vaccine.
- For children: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) routinely recommends DTaP at 2, 4, and 6 months, at 15 through 18 months, and at 4 through 6 years. Discuss with your child’s doctor regarding scheduling.
- For adults: If you weren’t previously vaccinated, get the Tdap vaccine. If you have received your Tdap vaccine, get a Td booster every 10 years.
- For pregnant women: Receive a booster every pregnancy during your third trimester. The vaccine also helps protect your baby in the first few months of life.
Influenza (flu) vaccine
Protects against: The flu
Newborns and pregnant women are especially vulnerable to the flu and are at increased risk from complications, including death.
“Pregnant women who are immunized against influenza at any time during their pregnancy provide protection to their infants during their first 6 months of life, when they are too young to receive an influenza vaccine themselves, through transplacental passage of antibodies,” Dr. Espinoza said. “That is why it is important for pregnant women to get the flu vaccine but also everyone around them.”
Schedule: These are given during every flu season and should be received at least two weeks before meeting baby. Learn more here about the flu vaccine and certain myths surrounding it.
What if a family member or friend refuses to get vaccinated?
When everyone’s vaccinations are up to date, parents can feel more secure about the safety of their child. But what if someone refuses?
Just as they would take the common courtesy to wash their hands and stay away if they are exhibiting any signs of an illness (such as the common cold, COVID-19 or the flu), anyone around your baby should also protect against life-threatening infections that could harm your infant.
“I would suggest that parents take a strong stand if a family member is not willing to get vaccinated,” Dr. Espinoza said. “I would not let them near my children until my kids have been adequately vaccinated and are a bit older (6 months old or so).”
Vaccinations can be a hot-button topic, so try and approach this topic as early as possible before the arrival of baby. If everyone takes necessary precautions, the vast majority of serious infections for newborns can be prevented.
For more information or to find a physician near you, visit bannerhealth.com.