Family

Social Graces: Should you ask family and friends to get vaccinated before visiting your newborn?

Q: Is it OK for parents of newborns to ask family and friends to get vaccinated before visiting the baby?

A: Immunization is a public health issue as much as a parenting issue. Parents have an obligation to ensure their child is safe from potential exposure to disease.

While we can't control for public exposure, like taking an infant to the grocery store, parents can ask family members who will be in regular, close contact with the child to be immunized.

The other family members have the right to choose not to get immunized, so the baby's parents should consider other ways extended family can build a relationship with the child. This issue should never be an excuse to cut off family members.

Consult with your doctor to determine how close the contact must be for disease transmission. This could allow extended family to visit, but just not hold your baby.

Above all, have a respectful conversation that does not offend or personally attack other family members.

– Alyson Schafer, parenting expert and author of "Honey, I Wrecked the Kids"

A: No, you can't ask people to get vaccinated or to vaccinate their children. However, it is OK to ask if they have already been vaccinated. If they haven't, then you decide whether you want your baby potentially exposed to vaccine-preventable diseases.

By surrounding your baby with vaccinated people – essentially in a bubble – the baby is protected from disease. Asking a friend or family member who isn't vaccinated to wait a few months to see the baby eliminates potential diseases from crossing into that bubble. Talk to your doctor about how long your child needs to be in the bubble.

If you're wary of creating issues with friends and family, let them know that most doctors advise keeping newborns away from vaccine-preventable diseases and, thus, those who are unvaccinated.

It's important to create boundaries when it comes to allowing unvaccinated people around your young ones. Although you may never know it, it may save your child's life.

– Taryn Chapman, founder of The Vaccine Mom

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