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World Immunization Week and Breastfeeding: Your questions answered

Please note, Milk Buds believes every case and situation should be reviewed with you and your child’s doctor. This is a compilation of information and not to be misinterpreted as medical advice from the Milk Buds.


This week is World Immunization Week. The goal of World Immunization Week is to promote the use of vaccines to prevent death from illnesses and diseases in children. You may have questions about which vaccinations are safe for breastfeeding moms and babies, and whether or not you or your baby should receive certain vaccinations. Vaccinations are not only safe for moms and babies who are breastfeeding, they are recommended.


Around the globe, vaccines have made a tremendous impact on children’s lives. They are the most effective way to prevent death in children from diseases like diptheria, measles, and whooping cough.


Peter Jay Hotez, a vaccinologist at the Baylor College of Medicine says, “Before we started vaccinating against measles, measles was the single leading killer of children in the world.”


Millions of lives are saved by vaccinations


We know that millions of lives are saved every year by immunizations. Yet, in the US the number of children who are unvaccinated or under-vaccinated is climbing at an astonishing rate. In 2004, there were 2.1 million under-vaccinatedchildren in the US and 17,000 unvaccinated children (0.3%). That number has skyrocketed. We now have 100,000 children in the US that are unvaccinated or (1.3%).


When it comes to vaccinations, many parents are choosing to skip some of them, delay them, or not vaccinate their children at all.


Why are some parents questioning the science of vaccinations?


There is a lot of misinformation out there. One of the biggest myths is that vaccines cause autism. This idea was spread through social media; and unfortunately, once bad information gets out there, it’s hard to undo the damage. Numerous scientific studies confirm that vaccines do not cause autism, but some parents still worry. If you have concerns, talk to your pediatrician who has the most up-to-date evidence-based research on vaccinations.


Why vaccinate your baby?


Having your baby vaccinated is the best way to protect him from preventable diseases and illnesses. If you have concerns about a particular vaccination, talk to your pediatrician.


Tips for comforting baby during a vaccination


The best way to comfort your baby after vaccination is to put the directly to your breast. The WHO recommends the following comfort measures.


● Babies should be held by their parent after a vaccination

● Mom or dad should be present throughout the entire vaccination procedure to provide comfort to the baby.

● Babies should be breastfed shortly before or immediately after being vaccinated.

● Distract your baby as much as possible with toys, music, or talking before and after vaccination.



Some pediatricians and nurses are amazing at distracting baby and make the immunization process less scary. After your baby is vaccinated, breastfeeding is a great way to comfort. Breastfeeding your baby after a vaccination decreases the chance of your baby getting a fever.

It can also enhance the antibody response to some vaccines such as pneumococcal and Haemophilus influenzae type b.


What about mom?


Can breastfeeding moms get vaccinations?


According to the AAP maternal vaccinations, with rare exceptions, do not create problems for breastfeeding infants. You may be concerned that your baby will have side effects or an immune reaction from your vaccination, but this is generally nothing to worry about however it should be discussed with your doctor.


Below is a list of Vaccinations that are safe for use in lactating moms (source CDC)


Inactivated

● Anthrax

● Hepatitis A

● Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

● Influenza

● Japanese Encephalitis

● Polio (IPV)

● Rabies


Live Attenuated

● Influenza

● Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)

● Varicella (Chickenpox)

● Typhoid (Ty21a)


Recombinant

● Hepatitis B

● Meningococcal meningitis (MenB)


Conjugate

● Haemophilus Influenzae type B (HiB)

● Meningococcal meningitis (MPSV4, MenACWY)

● Pneumococcal (PCV13)


Polysaccharide

● Pneumococcal (PPSV23)

● Typhoid (ViCPS)


Toxoid

● Tetanus, Diptheria, Acellular Pertussis/ Tetanus, Diptheria (Tdap/Td)



What about the Covid-19 vaccine?

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard have found that the new mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are not only safe for breastfeeding moms, but highly effective at producing antibodies in the mother. These antibodies are passed through the mother’s breast milk, providing the baby with immunity as well. According to the study, “we now have clear evidence the COVID vaccines can induce immunity that will protect infants. This is good news for breastfeeding moms. Not only is it safe for you to get the vaccine, you may be protecting your baby from the virus as well.


Please note, Milk Buds believes every case and situation should be reviewed with you and your child’s doctor. This is a compilation of information and not to be misinterpreted as medical advice from the Milk Buds.


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