The holidays have just ended; did you spend those days together with your family members and other close relatives? What a fantastic way to get together and bond. However, there is a rising concern about surrounding ourselves with people who are not well-protected from many diseases. As awkward as it may sound, we have to ask: do you have a complete immunization record? Have you and your kids been vaccinated? If yes, then you wouldn’t have to worry about a thing. However, is there an unvaccinated child in your family who has a newborn sibling? It is safe to ask a question like, is an unvaccinated child around newborn safe?
Is an unvaccinated child around newborn safe?
Yes, I know this sounds discriminating and totally below the belt, but please hear us out. We all know how vaccines work. They train our body’s immune system to recognize and combat pathogens like viruses or bacteria. Some molecules from the pathogen are introduced into the body to trigger an immune response. These molecules are called antigens, and they are present on all viruses and bacteria. The body now counteracts these antigens and develops a shield that protects the body from these invasions.
If a child is unvaccinated, she is not exposed to a certain type of pathogen, so her body is still vulnerable to infection. If an unvaccinated child around a newborn baby gets sick, the risk of spreading the disease or infection to the newborn is high. And we all know how fragile and frail newborns are. This scenario is what raises the question about the safety of having an unvaccinated child around newborn babies.
If an unvaccinated child is around vaccinated kids her age, there would be less dilemma. Because the immunity and resistance of her playmates or friends are higher than her, the possibility of contracting a virus or disease is slim. However, this is not a guarantee that vaccinated kids will never be sick. There are several different strains of viruses and bacteria and, depending on the infection, only a number of these strains can get covered by a vaccine. For instance, the influenza virus has so many strains and substrains, that covering all of these is quite impossible. That is why even if you have an annual vaccination of flu vaccine, there will still be a possibility that you can harbor a strain of the virus that is not covered by your flu shot.
That discussion is if the unvaccinated child is with her vaccinated same-age friends. There is even an ongoing debate about the new requirements for school admissions to include a complete immunization record just to be sure that kids will not endanger others from getting infected by a virus or bacteria. But what about a delicate newborn? Well, doctors would concur and agree that it would be safer if you do not allow an unvaccinated child around a newborn at least for the first year, or until the baby is vaccinated as well. This conclusion is because the newborn does not have the immune system fit to protect himself from the many viruses and bacteria that the child can pass on. It would be safe for the unvaccinated child to stay away from him to lessen the risk of contact and spread of infection. Mainly because some vaccines, like chickenpox and measles, may not be given until after they reach one year. It is best to make sure that the newborn already received the vaccines that he needed to have before exposing him to an environment where the spread of infection is more prevalent.
How cautious should a parent become with an unvaccinated child around newborn babies?
If the baby is under six months of age, parents should use extreme caution. Many newborn babies do not have full protection until after the six months’ shots. In addition, babies younger than six months old cannot receive a flu vaccine.
If the baby reached one year of age, parents should still be cautious. Although their child may have received several vaccines that would protect them from certain pathogens, they still are not given other immunity shots like measles and chickenpox vaccines. Your child’s pediatrician will give you a heads up if your child has already received all the vaccines he needed to have so he can expose himself safer to school or parks. They would also inform you of follow-up visits for your child’s vaccine boosters.
Children aged older than one but are afflicted with chronic illnesses or are born prematurely should be kept away from places and people who can spread infections as they are highly susceptible to get infected easier. Likewise, if you know a child, vaccinated or not, who has symptoms of a viral or bacterial infection, keep them away from a newborn so as to protect the health of the baby.
How do you keep away an unvaccinated child around newborn babies?
We know that it is hard to tell other parents or kids to stay away from your baby. This might make you look paranoid and too agitated or anxious about the welfare of your baby. Here are some ways we can advise you to say in a conversation about keeping away an unvaccinated child around newborn babies.
- Our baby has not been vaccinated yet, so he/she does not have enough protection from outside infections or diseases. We would feel very at ease if you/your child will try and stay away from her for now since you have colds/cough, fever, etc.
- As much as we would want everyone to have an intimate moment with our new bundle of joy, we would like to ask if we can be excused from the festivities for now as our dear baby has not received her shots.
- His/Her pediatrician instructed us to keep him/her to ourselves first and limit his/her exposure to other people, especially those who are sick or unvaccinated, so as to limit the chances of contracting the disease.