Baby on the Way? Get Grandparents vaccinated!

Preparing for the arrival of a new baby is an exciting time and there’s lots to do to prepare.  We all know about the usual: Baby-proof the house, decorate the nursery, stock up on diapers….  But there’s a new, and very important item you need to add to that list:  Vaccinate Grandma and Grandpa!  Specifically, with the Tdap vaccine.

Because infants can’t be vaccinated themselves, we need to create a buffer of immunity around them.  That means keeping people who come in contact with baby healthy so they don’t spread illness to the little one. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, mom, dad and anyone else who will come in contact with the baby should be up-to-date on vaccinations.  Previously the CDC excluded those over age 65, but it has become such a concern that they recently expanded their recommendations to include people falling into the grandparent category.

Dr. James Golden, Internal Medicine physician

To learn more we asked our own Dr. James Golden, an internal medicine physician, to answer some questions:

  1. What does the CDC recommend?  Tdap is recommended for adults 19-64 as a 1 time replacement for the dT vaccine which should be given every 10 yrs.  The TdaP vaccine protects against Tetanus, diphtheria (a serious throat infection) and Pertussis (whooping cough).  The traditional adult dT vaccine does not offer whooping cough protection.  Adults are recommended to get the TdaP vaccine because our childhood vaccine immunity has worn off.
  2. Why do grandparents need to vaccinate?  Any adult – including those over age 65 – who will be around infants under 1 year of age should receive a one time TdaP vaccination to lower the risk of passing Pertussis (whooping cough) to the infant where the disease can be life threatening.
  3. When should grandparents get their vaccination?  Grandparents and aunts and uncles and fathers and ANY other adult who will be around children under the age of 1 year should receive the vaccine prior to spending time with the infant.
  4. Are there any side effects or reactions?   TdaP is NOT a live vaccine.  It can not pass an infection.  Like any medication or vaccination it carries a very small risk of an allergic reaction.  The most common side effects are pain and redness at the vaccination site.  Some people may develop fever and body aches.  Other side effects are very rare.
  5. I was vaccinated when I was younger…do I still need to be vaccinated again?  Vaccination is being recommended because the immunity from our childhood vaccinations for Pertussis/whooping cough has faded.
  6. What other vaccinations do I need if I’m expecting a new baby in the family?  TdaP is just one of the recommended adult vaccines.  Pregnant women or women planning on becoming pregnant during the flu season should  get the annual flu vaccine.  Pregnant women are at extremely high risk of serious complications if they should get the flu.  Anyone around infants below the age of 6 months should receive the flu vaccine as infants can not be immunized below that age.  The infants are protected by having those around them immunized.  Any women who is planning on becoming pregnant should talk to their doctor to be sure they are immune to German measles (rubella) prior to getting pregnant.
  7. What does this cost?  Is it covered by Medicare?  The cost of the TdaP in a private doctors office is approximately $40 per dose plus an administration fee.  The Oakland County Health Department is currently charging $34 a dose.  Unfortunately, it is my understanding that at this time Medicare does not cover the cost of this vaccination.  Private insurance may or may not cover the cost.
  8. Where can I get the Tdap vaccine?  The Oakland County Health Department offers this vaccination as do many private doctors offices.  Patients should call their doctor to see if their office carries the vaccine.  Our office has the vaccine available for our patients.

For more information on the CDC recommendations visit:  http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/

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