Before baby Sonja went home with proud parents Auna and Rob Nelson, Rob took advantage of the Tdap vaccination offered by Lindsey, a nurse in SPMHC’s obstetrics department.
Providing a cocoon of protection
SPMHC’s Obstetrics department recently started a new program aimed at keeping newborns healthy — and it’s focused on adults.
In an effort to prevent newborns from getting pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, a vaccination is offered to the mom. This helps prevent mom from getting pertussis and possibly passing it on to the baby. The vaccination has been offered for free at SPMHC for the past year and a half.
“It is important to do all we can to protect newborns because we know how dangerous the illness is for this young patient population,” said Beth Martinka, BSN, RN, Obstetrics director.
According to the CDC, pertussis is currently considered an outbreak, with Wisconsin reporting high rates of the disease. Newborns with pertussis can experience severe complications, even death.
In July, the Obstetrics department started offering the vaccination free of charge to any adult family member who lives in the home or will be providing care for the newborn. By immunizing adults around the baby, this provides a “cocoon” of protection.
“Our cocooning project is protecting the baby with other adult caregivers,” said Martinka. “We’ve not just given them to fathers, but to grandparents and even one aunt who is planning to be the primary caregiver once the mom returns to work.”
The vaccination is given to the adult before the newborn is discharged from the hospital.
Martinka explained, “We’re trying to make it as convenient as we can for the family. It’s currently free, they don’t have to register and the immunization is given right in the Obstetrics department.”
In the first 30 days of the cocooning project, nearly 20 adult family members took advantage of the opportunity for a vaccination.