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Vaccine Offers Some Protection to Infants

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HOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB) — Vaccinations are just one way that we can all stay healthy, but for newborns who are too young to be vaccinated, the risk for infection can be high.

However, a new precedent in prenatal care may offer them some protection.

Pertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough, is on the rise and while it’s preventable through vaccination, it can be deadly to infants and children who are not properly vaccinated. 

Now it’s possible for them to receive protection while still in-utero if the mother receives the TDAP vaccine.

Infection Control Nurse Manager at Holyoke Medical Center Carol Wojnarowski says, “The pertussis antibodies dwindle and they want the mother to have antibodies readily available to pass them along to the infant when they are born, and to give the infant some, and I want to emphasize some, protection from the disease.”

While adults may only need to receive the vaccine once every ten years, it’s recommended that women get re-vaccinated during every pregnancy.

The best time for that vaccination is between 27 and 36 weeks. Having the TDAP vaccine during pregnancy does not mean that the infant can forgo their immunizations. But it can provide some protection until the newborn is old enough to begin their regular vaccination regimen at 2 months of age.

But while a mother can pass along some of those antibodies from the TDAP vaccine to her newborn, it’s still vitally important for those people who will be spending time with the infant to be vaccinated as well.

“It’s called a cocooning effect,” said Wojnarowski. “You want the mother, the father, the siblings to be up on their immunizations and grandparents. Those people that are going to have very close contact and are caregivers to that young infant.”

That way the whole family can make sure your new addition has a healthy start.