I work in healthcare – specifically with healthcare data. I see the numbers of flu, pneumonia and RSV cases coming into Emergency Rooms across the country and it is scary. Especially when you are pregnant and due to deliver your baby during flu season. Since last year’s flu season was one of the worst we’ve seen, we have set some common sense rules about family and friends visiting us after we welcome our baby. We know everyone wants to celebrate the newest arrival to their family, but for the sake and health of the baby and family, please think twice about visiting if you have not had a flu shot or if you or someone in your household has been sick recently. You don’t want to be the reason a newborn or infant is hospitalized or worse.
Do NOT even think about visiting a family and their newborn / infant if:
You have not received your flu shot.
This is a no-brainer. It’s not just for the baby’s health but for yours as well. Flu shots are available at most pharmacies and most insurances cover the cost of the flu shot. Just go get it. For grandparents, great aunts / uncles and great-grandparents, suggest they also get a TDAP booster (whooping cough) and pneumonia shot. This will protect their health as well as your family’s.
You have been sick in the last 2 weeks.
If you or anyone in your household has been sick in the last two weeks or is currently sick – think cold, “sinuses,” allergies, respiratory infections, fever, etc., please do not visit the family. As hard as it is, please wait. If you or someone in your household has fever, you / they are still contagious 24 hours after the fever has broken. That means you can spread germs and illness without even knowing it. RSV cases in newborns and infants are on the rise because visitors who think they only have allergies are actually passing on cold and other germs to family and friends. Newborns and infants don’t have fully developed immune systems, so what are just sniffles or a cough to you, can be much more serious for a baby.
That brings us to a basic sanitary requirement. WASH YO HANDS.
Wash your hands using proper technique before going anywhere near the baby. Proper technique is as follows: sing happy birthday twice while washing your hands with a liquid soap. Do not depend on hand sanitizer because it is not always used properly, and it doesn’t always have a high enough alcohol content to kill off germs.
You have had a cold sore at any point in your life or “feel one coming on.”
DO NOT KISS THE BABY. EVEN IF YOU ARE FAMILY – DO NOT KISS THE BABY. If you have EVER had a cold sore in your life (and honestly even if you haven’t), DO NOT kiss anyone in the immediate family, including the baby. I get it – they are snuggly and cute and so kissable. However, kissing a newborn, even without an active cold sore, can spread the HSV-1 virus. This is the Herpes Simplex virus and is known as the “kiss of death” because newborns and infants have little to no immune system to fight this virus. It can spread rapidly and will show up as a type of meningitis. The virus spreads quickly, attacking the brain first then multiple organs so fast, that you don’t even know the baby is sick until it is too late.
Don’t give new parents a hard time about not allowing visitors or attending family gatherings for holiday celebrations. They are not only trying to adjust and get to know their new addition, they also have to keep their baby safe and healthy.
If we don’t Face Time you or send you pictures, we’ll see you in Spring 2019 … after Flu/RSV season.