Vaccines for New Parents – How to Keep up With Your Own Shots After You Have a Baby

vaccines for new parents

Baby clothes, nappies, crib, formula milk – these are the essentials listed on every newborn parent’s list. But what about vaccines? They might have been forgotten in the anticipation and the joy of the newborn baby. Vaccines form an integral part of the hygiene routine that every parent, grandparent and caregiver should take before they tend to the baby. It is essential for new parents to get vaccinated to maintain a certain immunity level around the newborn baby as he is too young to get started on his vaccination doses. It would be wise to talk to your doctor and get a list of vaccinations that you and your partner would need. Most of these vaccinations are available with any doctor at their clinics and can be administered by registered nurses. Check with the clinics in advance to know if they stock the vaccines that you would like to take.

Why Do New Parents Need to Be Vaccinated?

A newborn baby is too young to be vaccinated against certain diseases. As a mother, you are the first line of defence for your unborn baby, so your immunity plays a vital role in safeguarding his health. The vaccines that you take during your pregnancy and postpartum play a crucial role in safeguarding the health of your baby. All the primary caregivers should get themselves vaccinated with the annual influenza shots at least two weeks in advance before they are ready to spend time with the baby. Flu vaccine and pertussis are the most common vaccinations that are suggested for new parents. Pregnant women should take the flu shot as early in their pregnancy as possible to avoid any complications later. The antibodies that the flu vaccine generates in your body get circulated in your newborn baby’s body as well, thus giving him protection in his early life. This is very effective as there is no flu vaccine available for newborn babies before they hit 6 months.

Is Getting Vaccinated While Breastfeeding Safe?

It is suggested by many doctors to keep your immunisations up-to-date as pregnant women and women who have just delivered a baby are at a higher risk of health complications. This is because the immune system, heart and all the other organs undergo a lot of change to accommodate and support a pregnancy. It is absolutely safe to get yourself vaccinated while you are breastfeeding your baby. Majority of the live viruses found in vaccines do not get transferred to human milk. Thus, you can breastfeed your baby and get vaccinated simultaneously without any problems. In fact, there is enough evidence that points out that babies who are breastfed have a better response to immunisations than babies who are formula-fed.

getting vaccinated during breastfeeding

Vaccine Shots for Parents of a Newborn

Let us look at what vaccines new parents should get to keep them and their baby healthy.

1. TDAP

Protects Against 

Whooping cough and tetanus.

Why You Need It 

Tetanus, commonly known as lockjaw, is caused by bacterial infections. Diphtheria is an infection that affects the respiratory part of our body, while pertussis is known as whooping cough. The protection that you receive against these viruses through vaccination at one time fades away over time. The bacteria that causes the symptoms of lockjaw is a toxin that can cause acute muscle spasm. Newborn babies are incredibly vulnerable to these illnesses within their first six weeks as they are too young to be vaccinated. Therefore, TDAP vaccines for new parents are very important as they are the primary caregivers of the baby. The Td booster dose is supposed to be repeated after every 10 years, while the TDAP is taken only once. Also, most babies catch whooping cough mostly from someone at home. Pertussis vaccine for new parents is, therefore, necessary to provide short term immunity to the infant after his birth.

Skip If 

  • You should consider skipping this vaccine if you are less than 20 weeks into your pregnancy. TDAP or Td can be taken when your pregnancy is in an advanced stage, or even after your baby is born.
  • If you have epilepsy or you are known to have Guillain-Barr syndrome. Avoid this vaccine if you suffer from any nervous disorder.

2. Hepatitis B

Protects Against 

This vaccine protects you and your child against the deadly Hepatitis B disease.

Why You Need It 

It is interesting to note that most people infected with Hepatitis B may not know that they suffer from it. Hepatitis B virus is life-threatening and can cause cancer and liver diseases among infants at their birth. An infected mother of a newborn baby can risk passing on the infection to the infant.

Skip If 

  • You should avoid getting yourself vaccinated for Hepatitis B if you are extremely allergic to yeast.

3. MMR vaccine

Protects Against 

As the name suggests, this vaccine will protect you against mumps, measles and rubella viruses.

Why You Need It 

Measles are a highly contagious virus that spreads rapidly among those who are not vaccinated against it. Babies are at a higher risk of getting measles as they cannot be vaccinated. All these three viruses can cause congenital disabilities among babies.

Skip If 

  • Avoid the vaccine if you are pregnant as the vaccine does carry live virus, though in a weakened form.
  • You are planning to conceive.
  • Those who are born before 1957 have already been exposed to the virus and can avoid the vaccination. A blood test can confirm your immunity.
  • Avoid this vaccine if you are allergic to gelatin or the antibiotic neomycin.
  • If you have cancer or suffer from HIV/AIDS.
  • You can avoid this vaccine if you have already taken 2 shots of MMR. It can also be skipped if you have taken one dose each of MMR and measles vaccine.

child being protected from viruses

4. Influenza

Protects Against 

Protects you and your child against flu.

Why You Need It 

A number of people die every year from flu. Infants are particularly vulnerable to this dangerous virus as they can only be vaccinated against it once they are six months old.

Skip If 

  • Avoid your flu shot if you suffer from egg allergies.
  • If you are pregnant, you should avoid this vaccine as it contains the live virus in a weakened form.
  • Those who suffer from Guillain-Barr syndrome should avoid the flu vaccine.

5. Varicella Vaccine

Protects Against

This vaccine protects you and your infant against chicken pox.

Why You Need It 

Chicken pox can cause several complications like pneumonia and severe infections of the bone, blood, brain and skin. Anyone who has never had chickenpox can get infected with this virus. This is highly contagious and can pass on to your baby from you.

Skip If 

  • Avoid the vaccine if you are pregnant as the vaccine carries live virus, though in a weakened form.
  • You are planning to conceive.
  • Skip this vaccine if you are allergic to gelatin or the antibiotic neomycin.
  • If your immune system is compromised due to cancer, or if you have HIV/AIDS.

6. PPSV or Pneumococcal Polysaccharide

Protects Against 

It is effective against pneumonia.

Why You Need It 

The pneumococcus bacteria are known to cause pneumonia, meningitis, and other blood infections. Infants, due to their low immunity are highly vulnerable to this bacterial infection.

Skip If 

  • You can skip this vaccine if you are less than 64 years old and maintain good health.

FAQs

We will address all your queries in this section.

1. Do You Need to Ask for Vaccines in Advance?

Yes, you should ideally ask for vaccines in advance as different doctors would stock different vaccines.

2. Where Can the New Moms and Dads Get the Vaccines They Need?

Usually, your primary caregiver, OB/GYN or even your family doctor can administer the shots with the help of registered nurses. But the availability of the shots depends on the doctor’s office. Nowadays, flu vaccine is available at almost every clinic. For other vaccines like the TDAP or MMR shots, talk to your primary caregiver or your family physician. Since they track your health closely, they would also know if you need the vaccine or you have already taken it.

3. Does Insurance Cover Vaccine Shots?

Yes. Most of the vaccines are covered under insurance if they are in line with the guidelines set by the government and prescribed by your doctor.

Maintain a vaccination schedule and get yourself vaccinated as per your doctor’s recommendations. Provide your baby with the cocoon of immunity that would help him stay healthy and keep you stress-free.

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Depression After Baby Delivery