Vaccines You Need Before Visiting a Newborn

Courtesy of Ruebus Designs on Etsy.

Courtesy of Ruebus Designs on Etsy.

Meeting a friend or relative’s newborn soon? In all the excitement, it’s easy to forget that newborns will not receive certain vaccinations until they are a bit older. You need to think about your immunizations so you don’t expose your new favorite person to infectious diseases.

Before meeting that bundle of joy, chat with a healthcare provider and make sure you’re up to date on your routine vaccination schedule. Here are a few to be aware of.

TDAP
Because it was only approved in 2005, many people aren’t aware they need this vaccine. Even if you have received the shot, a booster is required every 10 years. TDAP protects against three diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (or whooping cough). The last one is especially dangerous for newborns; they’re at a higher risk for life-threatening complications from whooping cough than any other demographic.

Measles, Mumps, Rubella
Newborns receive the first dose of most vaccines around one or two months, but the first MMR dose isn’t recommended until twelve months; that’s a long time to be vulnerable. With the recent spike in measles outbreaks, it’s more important than ever to be up to date on this vaccine.

Influenza
This is another dose most infants don’t get until six months. Many adults skip their flu shot (adherence was only 46.2% during the 2014-2015 flu season), but this is one of the reasons it’s so important to get your annual dose. Newborns are at high risk for life threatening complications from the flu, and you want to avoid passing it on to them.

Varicella
This shot protects against the chicken pox, but even if you’ve already had the chickenpox, make sure you’re up to date. You may be immune to the disease, but you could still carry it and pass it on to the child. This immunization isn’t recommended until twelve months, so infants are vulnerable to the illness for an especially long time.

Meningococcal
This is a trio of shots that protect against bacterial meningitis. The first dose isn’t recommended for children until they’re 11 years old; infants have a higher risk than any other group of developing a severe infection. These two facts mean one thing for you: Make sure you’re up to date on these immunizations. You’ll protect not only infants but also all kids who can’t be immunized yet.

Travel Health: Immunizations You Need Before That Big European Vacation

A man on a bridge in Venice, Italy

You’ve booked the flights and reserved the hotels, but are your vaccinations up to date?  Photo credit: Unsplash/3828 images

Heading to Europe this summer? It’s easy to think that because developed countries in Europe have similar vaccine recommendations to the U.S., you can skip a doctor’s visit before that big trip. But that’s not necessarily true. Even if you got all your shots as a kid, you still might need boosters as an adult—especially because vaccine adherence is lower in some European countries than it is stateside.

Your game plan? Chat with a healthcare provider, make sure you’re up to date on your routine vaccination schedule, and check if any additional vaccinations are recommended for your vacation destinations. Here are a few to ask about:

Measles
Outbreaks of the measles have been making headlines here lately, but the problem is even worse in Europe. There were 3,840 cases of measles in Europe last year. Germany and Italy have particularly high rates of the disease. Regardless of your destination, make sure your MMR status is up to date before you leave.

TDAP
The TDAP vaccine was only licensed in 2005, so there’s a good chance you missed it as a kid.  Even if you did get it, you need a booster dose every 10 years. The vaccine has become a part of the CDC’s recommended vaccination schedule, so get it before you leave.

Hepatitis A
Though risk for Hep A is low in most of Europe, the CDC cautions that outbreaks can occur anywhere in the world, and there is always the risk of contracting the disease through contaminated food or water. In some European destinations (Croatia and the Czech Republic among them), the risk is higher than in the U.S.; the CDC recommends the vaccine for most travelers in those places.

Flu
This is one major difference between European and American vaccine recommendations: An annual flu shot is recommended for all adults in the U.S, but not a single European country does the same. You don’t want to spend your vacation stuck in bed with the chills; get that flu shot before you go.

Typhoid, polio, yellow fever, rabies
Because these diseases are present in less developed areas, a lot of people don’t think of them when they’re going to Europe; but the CDC recommends them for many destinations in Eastern Europe. You should also ask about these immunizations if you’ll be participating in outdoor activities, are taking an extended trip, or will be staying with locals. Check this CDC resource to see if it’s recommended for your destination.

Your Weekly Dose 7.14: All the Vaccine News You Missed

Nationwide, parents are more supportive of vaccines than just a year ago; the US reports its first measles death in more than a decade; and  a vaccine for dengue is closer than you think. Bonus: Elmo and the Surgeon General chat vaccines.

Elmo Gets a Check-UpWatch the Surgeon General calm down an adorably nervous Elmo as he gets his first vaccinations (with a little help from TSwift). [The Daily Dot

Hope for Dengue Vaccine: A new antibody discovery offers hope for a vaccine to prevent dengue, the sometimes-fatal mosquito-borne virus that affects 390 million people each year. [Medical News today]

All It Takes Is One (Mutation): Just one mutation decreased the effectiveness of last year’s flu vaccine. Here’s how scientists are gearing up to make this season’s dose even more effective. [Healthline]

First Recorded Measles Death: The US marked its first measles death in 12 years last week, when an autopsy confirmed a woman in Washington State died from the disease.

Vaccine Attitudes Changing: In a recent study, 34 percent of parents think vaccines have more of an impact than they did a year ago—and 35 percent support more stringent vaccination requirements in schools and daycares. [C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital]

Free Meningitis Vaccines in ChicagoMore than 45 Chicago-area clinics and pharmacies (including Walgreens) are offering free meningitis vaccines following an outbreak of the disease last month. [Chicago Tribune]

Want to Work in Vaccines? 4 Careers That Really Make a Difference

One reason to work in vaccines? You’ll make a difference in the lives of countless parents, children, and students around the world. Another reason? “Disease Detective” is a very cool (and very real) job title. Whatever your motivation—no judgment here—these are four career paths that have a significant impact in the vaccine field.

Solve the Outbreak game

Take a crack at being a Disease Detective by playing the CDC’s Solve the Outbreak game

Disease Detective
CDC Epidemic Intelligence Officers, a.k.a. “disease detectives,” track a disease outbreak back to its source, identifying everyone who may have been exposed along the way. Their work allows public health workers to quarantine, vaccinate, and treat those exposed as needed. Disease detectives were especially important to limiting the impact of the recent measles outbreak, and they’re vital to public health whenever an infectious disease breaks out.

Nurse
Nurses are on the front lines of immunizations. Not only do they administer many vaccines, they are some of the most important advocates in the immunization community. Nurses have a tremendous amount of one-on-one time with patients; this gives them the unique opportunity to advise patients on recommended immunizations, reassure hesitant parents about vaccine safety, and discuss any other concerns in-person with patients.

Vaccine Research and Development
There are two major branches of vaccine research: Basic science researchers and clinical science researchers. Basic researchers look at the physical properties of disease-causing microbes—they’re working to understand how these physical properties can be used in the body to produce immunity against specific diseases. Clinical researchers use that knowledge to develop vaccines and test them for safety and effectiveness, so that they can eventually be administered to the general public.

Development Director
Many organizations involved in immunization advocacy (like us!) are not-for-profits that rely on fundraising to support their efforts. Development Directors are at the forefront of this, making sure immunization organizations have the funds they need to do their life-saving work. The job involves everything from organizing philanthropic events to securing donations from foundations, individuals, and the government. Consider it a sales job, but the product you’re selling is public health and an end to needless suffering.