Would You Ask People to Get Vaccinated Before Visiting Your Baby?
From hand washing requests to TDAP vaccines, moms everywhere are holding the line when it comes to protecting new babies from adult-sized germs
I’ve had three babies in the last four years and there have been plenty of visitors, but honestly, I don’t think I ever had a germ policy. And I certainly have never considered shots. In fact, this whole question initially seemed a little silly. A little overkill. A little too “Hello, here’s the hand gel.” Then I started asking around and just like that, I may have a new germ policy.
When I posed the question, moms from all over the country, and some abroad, immediately sent their two cents about germs, new babies and keeping the two as far apart as possible. The responses ranged from totally reasonable requests that visitors wash hands to indeed asking about immunizations. One mom of two in Tennessee told me, “I asked the grandmothers to get the flu vaccine in preparation for my fall-born newborns.” And MANY moms said they requested TdaP vaccines for visitors, especially before babies are old enough to be immunized themselves.
Now to me, that sounds like a series of awkward conversation with friends and family. Germs, especially when they are other people’s concerns about your own, are pretty personal. Almost accusing even. But considering the outbreak of whooping cough in the US, I can totally understand why parents do it. And if I had any lingering doubts, this mom’s story from Washington state clinched it. “My daughter contracted whooping cough and RSV as a preemie from someone (we don’t know who), and we learned that often adults think they just have a strong cold when in fact it is whooping cough or RSV. We had a week in the NICU as a result.” And done. I am now a supporter of getting a TdaP and flu shot before blessing anybody’s new babe with a visit.
But what surprised me was that no one said anything about being embarrassed about asking. Then again, why should they feel weird? It’s hardly audacious to ask people to keep their germs to a minimum. It’s a new mom’s job to keep that baby safe, and most of us are navigating the waters between disease prevention and social graces with just the right hint of Mama Bear. “I think kids need to build up their immune system, so now that my child has started his vaccinations I’m not as concerned about people using hand gel, etc.,” explained Monica in North Carolina. “That said, if you’re sick and you want to hold my child, I shouldn’t have to ask you to wash your hands.” They DID mention a few holdouts who refused their immunization requests and one mom told me she’s holding her ground. She has got a family member who hasn’t had the TdaP yet, and as a result has yet to see her new baby, who is now a month old.
Oh well, it’s just another thing that’s different today than it was when we were kids so it’s easy to see why 21st century feathers would be ruffled. Though I’m pretty sure that those visitors wearing bellbottoms washed their hands, too.
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