The addition of a new member of the family often brings pride, joy and a houseful of visitors. A baby may not be the only company you’re expecting to arrive near your due date. Grandparents, adult siblings and well-wishers might ask to meet your baby at the hospital or in the first weeks after birth. Keep your newborn healthy from day one by making sure your visitors are vaccinated.
Flu and whooping cough are the two vaccines relatives and potential caregivers should receive before a visit. Your baby’s new immune system is particularly vulnerable to those two illnesses in the first 6 months of life, when baby is too young to be fully vaccinated.
Newborns depend on herd immunity to help keep them safe. Surrounding yourself with people who are vaccinated helps protect your baby.
Illness can be an uninvited guest that comes along with even the most well-meaning relatives, babysitters and nannies. Have the conversation before your third trimester or when you meet a new caregiver.
Here are five tips to help.
Conversations with relatives
Bring it up: Tell your relatives that your doctor has reminded you to ask if they are up-to-date on their vaccines, especially flu and the Tdap vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. Reminding them right after you get your shot during pregnancy is also a good way to start the conversation.
Start with science: Be prepared to text your relatives a link to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, which has addressed the issue. If your relative recalls having read something online that would discourage vaccination, ask for the source or a link so you can read it yourself. Recommendations from experts should outweigh disinformation from informal sources like blogs, memes and social media.
Get a doctor’s note: If your relative is unfamiliar with current recommendations, your doctor may put an end to the discussion by simply writing his or her official position on letterhead.
Conversations with job candidates: Make it clear that your expectation is for all your baby’s caregivers to be vaccinated.
Ask potential candidates to get vaccinated: According to Care.com, it is not unlawful to give preference to vaccinated job candidates or ask them to get vaccinated during the course of employment. See the full explanation here.
Make your wishes known: If you have had conversations with your relatives and caregivers but want a way to remind them before birth, click here to download a #NoVaxNoVisit frame for social media.
Post it with this reminder: Baby is due in just three weeks. We can’t wait to meet him and hope you can join us soon after. If you would like to meet Baby Smith, we ask that you check with your doctor about getting a whooping cough booster this week. Our son cannot be fully vaccinated until he is older. Newborns rely on all of us to keep them safe. #NoVaxNoVisit Find more information about vaccines for relatives and caregivers here.
You can also download below a postcard to include with your baby shower invitation, your baby announcement, a door hanger and a baby carrier sign.