Vaccines for Expectant Parents

If you are expecting a child, congratulations!  This is an exciting and busy time as you prepare to welcome your little one into the world.  One of the many items on your list will be ensuring that you are up to date on your routine vaccines.  Check with your doctor right away and catch up on any vaccines that are missing.

Two important vaccines for parents and close contacts of infants are the TdaP and influenza vaccines, which we will discuss further in this article.  Newborns are most likely to catch whooping cough and flu from household members, so getting vaccinated is vitally important. 

Whooping Cough: what are the symptoms?

Whooping cough is a highly contagious disease caused by a bacteria, bordetella pertussis, that can cause serious illness in infants, such as pneumonia, difficulty breathing and even death.  In fact, half of infants less than a year of age who contract whooping cough end up hospitalized. The classic symptoms of whooping cough are fits of coughing followed by an inspiratory gasp, or “whoop”.  Infants may also have difficulty breathing, turn blue or have long pauses in breathing, called apnea. The coughing fits can last a few months.

 

TdaP Vaccine: how do I protect my baby?

The TdaP vaccine protects against whooping cough.  Infants cannot start the vaccine series until 2 months of age.  That leaves newborns particularly vulnerable to infection. Mothers should receive the TdaP vaccine with each pregnancy, preferably between  27th and 36th week of pregnancy. Mom’s immunity will pass to the fetus, offering short-term protection once your baby is born. All caregivers and close contacts should receive a single dose of TdaP vaccine, ideally at least 2 weeks before meeting your little one.

 

Influenza: what are the symptoms?

Influenza is a viral infection that causes fever, a runny nose, cough, chills and body aches.  The symptoms can range from mild to severe, though infants are at high risk of becoming severely ill.  Infants are more likely to develop complications such as difficulty breathing, dehydration, pneumonia and death.

 

Influenza vaccine: how do I protect my baby?

Pregnant women can get the flu vaccine anytime during their pregnancy.  The immunity will pass from mom to the fetus, offering protection for several months after your baby is born.  Furthermore, influenza is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women, so you will be protecting yourself as well.  All caregivers and close contacts should receive the flu vaccine during flu season, ideally at least 2 weeks before they meet your baby.  Infants are not eligible to receive the vaccine until they are 6 months of age.

As always, feel free to contact your doctor or your child’s pediatrician if you have questions.  By ensuring that you and your loved ones are immunized, you create a cocoon of protection for your newborn.