Vaccinating family members protects newborns from flu

October 27th, 2008 - 2:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Oct 27 (IANS) Vaccinating mothers and family members against flu before the newborns leave hospitals, creates a “cocooning effect” to protect babies from the life-threatening virus, a research has found. The hospital-based outreach tested in this study proved effective at boosting immunisation rates in parents - especially new fathers - and siblings who otherwise may not be vaccinated.

“The Centres for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention does not recommend vaccinating newborns for flu because they’re too young, however they’re a part of the population that is at highest risk,” explained Emmanuel (Chip) Walter, a paediatric infectious disease specialist at Duke Children’s Hospital.

“Newborns have the highest rate of hospitalisations due to influenza when compared to any other age group of children,” comparable “to people of age group 80 and older. And, in some seasons the influenza-associated mortality rate is highest among infants. We want to protect the newborn by vaccinating the entire family, and send parents home with one less thing to worry about,” added Walter.

The study was carried out from October 2007 to February 2008 at Durham Regional Hospital. Educational material was distributed to new mothers, and a flu vaccine clinic was set up to facilitate the vaccinations for other family members around the time of a newborn’s birth. Duke University Medical Centre served as the comparison site.

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