Should Your Baby’s Visitors Get Vaccinated?

a mother holding her hand up

The cold and flu season is a long way off, but that doesn’t mean your new baby will be safe from germs. Even minor coughs and sniffly noses that are mostly just annoying to adults and older children can be harmful to newborns, and obviously more serious illnesses can put them at greater risk.

Babies’ immune systems aren’t always up to the task of dealing with the outside world – which is why the American Pediatrics Association vaccination schedule recommends they get their first immunization as early as a few hours after birth. But infant vaccinations aside, have you given any thought to how you can protect your baby by insisting that family and friends who visit are themselves vaccinated? Especially for illnesses your baby is too young to be vaccinated against herself?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends anyone who will come in contact with an infant receive the DTaP vaccine – which guards against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (a.k.a. whooping cough) – at least two weeks prior to visiting the baby. During the winter, flu shots are also recommended for people who care for infants and small children. The list can change depending on what kinds of sickness are making the rounds in a given season.

Is this something that’s on your radar as you prepare for the birth of your child? Do you worry you might offend someone by insisting they be vaccinated against certain illnesses before they come in contact with your infant? (I know someone whose brother stopped talking to him for A YEAR because he was asked to wash his hands before holding his new nephew. I can only imagine how he’d react to the vaccine talk…)

I remember getting a few immunizations myself while I was in the hospital after the birth of my first child, but I never thought to ask visitors whether they were protected too, even though that was in December, the height of the cold and flu season. Definitely something to think about this time around…