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On Call: Prevaccination Health

Q. Is it okay to take my newborn out before she's had her first round of vaccinations?


A. Yes and no, although my answer doesn't really have anything to do with vaccinations. All of the immunizations currently recommended by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics before 12 months are given in a series, usually in three doses  -- with a booster dose at 12 to 18 months for the DTaP, HIB, and Prevnar vaccines. While the amount of protection from the first dose varies from vaccine to vaccine, a baby needs all of them for full protection. And it's just not realistic (or, in terms of risk, necessary) to keep her cloistered inside for that long.

That said, being protective of your baby for the first couple of months is a good idea. Her immune system is just getting up and running, and being handed from person to person isn't always a wise thing. The cold virus that only gives Uncle George the sniffles could give her a high fever or even pneumonia. Also, overstimulation by lots of noise or people, or very hot or cold weather, can be hard on a baby's developing nervous system. (How to tell when she's had enough: You may notice her becoming very irritable or shutting down and sleeping more than usual.)

When you do go out, try to keep trips and visits short, ask people who want to hold her to wash their hands, try using a sling, and don't be afraid to say no if someone seems sick to you or your baby is getting cranky.

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