We often focus on what vaccines a baby will need once they are born, but it is also important that folks around your new baby get vaccinated too.
What Shots Do You Need to Be Around a Newborn?
Of course, all of your vaccines should be up-to-date, especially if you plan to be around young kids. That’s how we maintain herd immunity levels of protection for those who can’t be vaccinated and protected, including newborns who are too young to be vaccinated.
In addition to routine vaccines, it is especially important that teens and adults who are going to be around a newborn or younger infant have:
- a dose of Tdap – now routinely given to kids when they are 11 to 12 years old and to women during each pregnancy (to protect newborns against pertussis), others should get a dose if they have never had one. There are currently no recommendations for a booster dose.
- a flu shot – is it flu season? Then anyone who is going to be around your baby should have had a flu shot. And for the purposes of keeping a newborn safe from the flu, you can assume that flu season extends from September through May, or anytime that flu shots are still available.
Only two shots?
Yes, only two shots assuming you are either immune or are up-to-date on your other vaccines. If you have been delaying or skipping any vaccines, then you might need an MMR, the chicken pox vaccine, and whatever else you are missing.
Other Precautions Around a New Baby
Unfortunately, there are many risks to a new baby that aren’t vaccine preventable.
Just because everyone is vaccinated and protected, that doesn’t mean that you should have a party welcoming your baby home and invite everyone in the neighborhood. Besides the flu, we get concerned about other cold and flu-like viruses, especially RSV.
That means to protect them, you should keep your baby away from:
- large crowds, or even small crowds for that matter – in general, the more people that your baby is exposed to, the higher the chance that they will catch something
- people who are sick
- cigarette smoke – second hand smoke increases the risk of infections, like RSV
And make sure everyone, even if they don’t seem sick, washes their hands well before handling your baby.
“Parents or relatives with cold sores should be especially careful not to kiss babies—their immune systems are not well developed until after about 6 months old.”
AAP on Cold Sores in Children: About the Herpes Simplex Virus
Because you can sometimes be contagious even if you don’t have an active cold sore (fever blister), some parents don’t let anyone kiss their baby. Most of this fear comes after news reports of babies getting severe or life-threatening herpes infections after a probable kiss from a family member or friend.
When Can I Take My Newborn Out in Public?
When can you take your baby out in public? Most people try to wait until they are at least two months old.
Is that because that’s when they are protected with their two month shots?
Not really, as your baby won’t really be protected until they complete the primary series of infant vaccinations at six months.
Two months is a good general rule though, because by that age, if your baby gets a cold virus and a fever, it won’t necessarily mean a big work-up and a lot of testing. Before about six weeks, babies routinely get a lot of testing to figure out why they have a fever (the septic workup), even if it might be caused by a virus. That’s because younger infants are at risk for sepsis, UTI’s, and meningitis and they often have few signs when they are sick.
Keep in mind that going out in public is much different from going out. You can go for a walk with your baby at almost any time, as long as they are protected from the sun, bugs, and wind, etc., as long as there aren’t people around.
What to Know About Protecting Newborn Babies
Protect your baby by making sure everyone around them is vaccinated and protected, especially with a dose of Tdap and the flu vaccine.
More on Protecting Newborn Babies
- Surround Babies with Protection
- Cocooning Protects Babies
- Vaccine Considerations for New and Expectant Moms
- The Best Gift Any Grandparent Can Give Their Grandchild is Good Health
- Protecting Your Child and Your Community
- Protecting Grandparents from Flu
- AAP – Cold Sores in Children: About the Herpes Simplex Virus
- AAP – Protecting Your Baby from RSV
- Herpes and your baby