My partner and I got COVID-19 vaccines while I was pregnant, but is it safe for our newborn to be around unvaccinated people?
Shetal Shah MD, FAAP- healthychildren.org
Congratulations on the birth of your new baby! And kudos for getting fully immunized against COVID-19 during your pregnancy. This protects you—and also passes along protective antibodies that may reduce your baby’s risk of COVID-19 infection. In other words, you likely gave your little one some immunity against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, from the moment they were born!
Still, you should strongly consider limiting your newborn’s exposure to others. People who aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19 spread the virus, especially the more contagious Delta variant. Also keep in mind that people aren’t fully vaccinated against COVID-19 until two weeks after the last shot.
How likely are newborns to get sick from COVID?
While serious COVID-19 infections in newborns are uncommon, some babies in this age group have become severely ill. Your baby’s overall fragile immune system, small airways, and developing lungs and breathing muscles leave them more vulnerable to all respiratory diseases, including COVID.
When young infants do get COVID or other airborne illnesses, it’s often because a close contact transmitted it to them. This can happen even if the person or contact doesn’t feel sick.
Ways to protect your baby from the virus
- Face masks. Non-household members over age 2 should mask-up, even if visiting the baby outside or in small gatherings.
- Physical distancing. Even though everyone wants to hold a new baby, you should insist unvaccinated visitors remain at least 3 feet from the baby. These measures should also be kept in mind when you go out of the house with the baby.
- Keep visits with your baby short. Limiting visits to under 15 minutes may also reduce your infant’s risk of becoming infected with COVID-19.
- Vaccines. Encourage family members and friends who are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines to get fully vaccinated.
Having a new baby is a wonderful but exhausting time. Taking these common-sense steps can give you peace of mind that you are reducing your baby’s risk of COVID-19 infection. Vaccine trials are underway in infants 6 months of age and older. Keeping your baby up-to-date on all recommended vaccines is one of the most important ways to protect your baby’s health. Still have questions on how to keep your infant safe during COVID-19? Call Kids First Pediatrics today. Raleigh: 919-250-3478, Clayton: 919-267-1499.