Preparing your life and home for a new baby can seem exceedingly overwhelming. With all of the things to clean, buy, and baby-proof in order to create the best and safest environment for your little babe, it's often easy to overlook other things we can do as parents to keep our little ones safe, like vaccinations. You know that your baby will begin her vaccination process shortly after birth, and you've likely had your TDAP and flu shot at some point in your pregnancy, but what about your SO? Should your partner get any vaccines to keep baby safe?
According to pediatrician Dr. Sarah Kohl, M.D., it's very important that dads or partners are up to date on all of their routine vaccines. "Because newborn babies are so vulnerable to infection, it's vital to put the concept of cocooning into play," she tells Romper. "That is, it's important to have everyone in the child's environment vaccinated in order to protect the baby who is too young for vaccines. Some families are often hesitant," Kohl continues, "but, in situations like this, you have to think of it like 'taking one for the team.' By immunizing yourself, you are protecting your baby, who is too young to protect themselves."
It's the embodiment of parenting, really, and it starts before your babe is born.
As long as parents have been vaccinated on schedule thus far, there's typically just a few boosters to get before your little one arrives.
"I always recommend an annual flu vaccine for parents," Kohl says, "because newborns are in a high-risk group of bad outcomes from influenza due to their age and immunity levels (or lack thereof). And because newborns are especially susceptible to whooping cough (Pertussis), which is usually contracted through a family member," Kohl adds, "the TDAP (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis) vaccine is also recommended.
Dr. William Schaffner, M.D., Medical Director for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), confirms this. The two vaccines that are imperative are influenza (flu) and TDAP, he tells Romper.
"Both influenza and whooping cough can have devastating effects if acquired by young babies before they themselves can be fully immunized," Schaffner continues, "therefore we (Center for Disease Prevention and Control, American Academy of Pediatrics, and other experts in the field) all recommend that no one who is not appropriately vaccinated with these vaccines should be allowed near the newborn baby. They could pass these infections on to the baby, even if they are not not ill themselves."
Amanda Gorman, Certified Pediatric Nurse Practioner (CPNP), tells Romper partners should also be up to date on Hepatitis B and, possibly, MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella). "Best practice would include an MMR booster, if current immunity is low, to prevent any chance of measles, mumps, or rubella," Gorman says, "but most adults have completed the required childhood series." If you're unsure of whether or not you or your partner are current on these vaccines, it certainly doesn't hurt to do a little digging and find out.
What is important to note is that these vaccine recommendations aren't necessarily just for parents.
Pediatrician Dr. Nelson Branco, M.D., Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (FAAP), tells Romper, "Husbands/partners and any other adults who are living in the same home as the baby, or who spend significant amounts of time caring for the infant, should all be vaccinated appropriately." This could include other caregivers, like grandparents or nannies.
Making sure parents, grandparents, and other caretakers are properly vaccinated before your baby is born will ensure that the sweet little babe is entering an environment that is healthy and safe. The immunity resulting from all close family members and caregivers will create a "cocoon effect" around your baby to keep her healthy, because babies aren't able to protect themselves against various diseases and infections. This will greatly reduce their risk of contracting very serious, even fatal, illnesses.
You'll likely have to make many painstaking decisions throughout the course of your child's life, and vaccination is likely one of the biggest and most controversial. You want to keep your child safe, as we all do, and in order to do that, we all have to work together to keep our collective herd strong, and to provide protection to those who can't be vaccinated, like newborns, those with compromised immune systems, pregnant women, and the elderly. When you look at it strictly from a protection perspective, about providing the healthiest and safest environment for your little one, it becomes a bit more simple.
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