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Moms & Dads Need Vaccines Too!

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

I saw a two-week-old baby the other day who is the second child for one of my many families. Their first is a precious 2 1/2 year old girl. I must admit, this is one family I really enjoy.

The mother was in and is doing well being a mother of two.  Her infant son is gaining weight well and is as cute as a button.

The mom mentioned to me that they had all been sick with a cough and cold, but the baby is fine and asymptomatic.  At any rate, the evening before the baby’s visit, the Dad was not feeling well, complaining about a headache, sore muscles and feeling badly and he had also noted a scratch on his leg.  He reported to his wife that he had a temperature of 99.2 degrees.

By now it was 1:00 a.m. and she was tired as she went off to nurse the baby. A few minutes later, her husband came in to talk.

He told her he had figured out what was wrong with him, he thought he had tetanus (admittedly this was his internet diagnosis) due to the scratch on his leg and his symptoms of muscle aches etc.  She told me she was LOL as he walked out of the room! They were both just too tired for him to have tetanus! So, with the fear of tetanus, he made a doctor’s appointment for the next day.

While I was seeing the baby and hearing this story, dad called mom to report the results of his doctor’s visit. Good news; no tetanus, and only sinusitis. The doctor put him on a round of antibiotics to treat his sinus infection. The doctor had also looked at the scrape on the dad’s leg and agreed  that the he did NOT have tetanus but because he was due for an update on his immunizations, he received a Tdap vaccine while he was there.  That was even better news!!!

As you know, I have talked about the need for adults to get updated immunizations and most importantly  to vaccinate against pertussis (especially during the current pertussis outbreak). What an opportune time for this father’s internist to take the opportunity to vaccinate this father, which in turn will protect his own newborn son as well as the rest of the community.

Many of my young adult parents are unaware of the need for continued immunizations and have not received a Tdap vaccine.

All adults who are younger than 65 years of age,  and who have not had a recent Tetanus shot, probably in the last 5 years, need to receive a Tdap vaccine that provides protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough). This shot is then repeated every 10 years.  In some cases new parents are receiving information about this vaccine from their Ob-Gyn.

Some new mother’s report to me that they were given the option of receiving the vaccine in the hospital after having their baby, but is seems to be dependent on the OB that delivered them, rather than a standard order for all women in the post partum unit. At the same time, the hospitals are not offering the vaccine for the father of the baby, so this means that the new dad needs to find a place to get his own Tdap.

It seems like we (the medical community) should make it a little easier and more consistent to get this vaccine, especially when we are having an outbreak in the U.S. and there have even been infant deaths reported in Northern California.

The funny story of a father who was convinced he had tetanus ended up with a happy ending for all. Dad got his Tdap, mom had a cold which she is recovering from and the baby slept 6 hours the other night!

That’s your Daily Dose for today.  We’ll chat again tomorrow.

Send your question to Dr. Sue

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One Response to “Moms & Dads Need Vaccines Too!”

  1. Ken S. says:

    Thank you Dr. Sue! We had no idea that we could get whooping cough as adults! We always take the flu shot, even though I sometimes still get sick, just not as bad I guess. Thank you again for the information! We’re off to our doctor for the vaccine right now!
    Ken…and Family

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