Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Cocooning Protects Babies

Everyone in a baby’s life needs to get vaccinated against whooping cough and flu!
What is cocooning?
Babies younger than 6 months old are more likely to develop certain infectious diseases than older children are. Cocooning is a way to protect babies from catching diseases from the people around them – people like their parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, child-care providers,  babysitters, and healthcare providers. Once these people  are vaccinated, they are less likely to spread these contagious diseases to the baby. They surround the baby with a  cocoon of protection against disease until he or she is old enough to get all the doses of vaccine needed to be fully  protected.

Why is cocooning important?
Babies less than 6 months old are too young to have  received all the doses of vaccine that are needed to protect  them from whooping cough (pertussis), flu (influenza),  and other dangerous diseases. To be fully protected, babies need to get all the vaccine doses in a series – not just  the first dose.
Unvaccinated adults and family members, including parents, are often the ones who unknowingly spread dangerous  diseases to babies.
How can we protect babies?
Everyone has the opportunity to protect babies by getting  vaccinated themselves. Cocooning is an easy and effective  way that people can work together to prevent the spread  of whooping cough and flu to babies.
How can we protect babies against  whooping cough?
        All children should be vaccinated on schedule with  DTaP (the childhood whooping cough vaccine).
        All teenagers and adults need a one-time dose of Tdap  vaccine (the teen and adult whooping cough vaccine).
        Unvaccinated women who might become pregnant  should receive a Tdap vaccination.
        Pregnant women who haven’t been vaccinated with  Tdap should receive a dose in the 2nd or 3rd trimester  of pregnancy. This will protect the pregnant woman as well as her baby!
How can we protect babies against flu?
Everyone age 6 months and older needs to receive flu  vaccine every year.
Commentary: In India, where even routine vaccinations are not completed for many babies, cocooning may seem like an exotic concept! However, there needs to be an awareness regarding this concept among pediatricians, since there are increasing number of parents coming to private practitioners who want to protect their babies from "all" infectious illnesses by vaccinations. In this situation the concept of cocooning should be explained to them in relation to grandparents, the parents & other close care-providers. Given the abysmal lack of adult vaccination, this would end up benefiting the adults too ! As stated above, Pertussis & Flu (influenza) are the two vaccinations which the adults maybe offered to prevent the newborn baby from getting these serious diseases.

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