New baby - grandparents don't want to get Tdap

Our first child is going to be born any day now.  His paternal grandparents don't believe in immunizations and don't want to get a Tdap that our pediatrician is recommending for all the grandparents (must be within the last two years).  It is a very delicate situation, with their physician saying they don't need to be immunized and us feeling they need to honor our choices on how to protect our child.   They want to come see the baby a month after he is born.    Any thoughts on how to handle this? 

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Honestly--you just say no. Whether or not they want to get the vaccination is up to them, but whether or not unvaccinated friends and family are in close proximity to your newborn is up to you. I think you (and by "you" I mean your husband, who needs to handle this given that it involves his parents) just kindly let them know that you respect their decision, but it means you will need to plan a time for them to meet the baby after he finishes the DTaP vaccine series at six months. In the meantime you can FaceTime or otherwise let them connect with him from afar. Then stick to it. Pertussis isn't something to mess around with.

I'd be very blunt, and say that without the vaccine they will not get to see the baby, period. The tdap is not to protect them, but the baby, and in the end you are your partners are the gatekeepers. If they think not meeting their grandchild is less important than taking a shot, their loss. 

With you presumably getting vaccinated my understanding is that it should help protect baby for 2 months after they're born, but I understand your concern and would side with your instincts. If they don't want to comply with your wishes you may want to ask that they postpone a visit until after baby can be immunized. 

Whooping cough is no joke:

Good luck.

We were strict about Tdap and flu shots. We told family members that they could only visit if they had their shots. One family member was resistant, but when I told her (nicely) that it wasn't negotiable, she eventually did it. I do know some parents who were firm like us and ended up not having family visit as soon as they wanted because they refused to get vaccinated - so you might have to be prepared for that outcome. I would make the point that their doctor is not your kid's pediatrician. Maybe your parents don't need to get vaccinated for themselves, but it's not about them. Have they ever had a Tdap? My pediatrician said that it lasts ten years, not two, so you may want to ask again about that, if they have had one in the last ten years (though it sounds like probably not). Not "believing in immunizations" is a tough one because facts don't tend to change people's minds, unfortunately. I think you'll just have to hope that their desire to see their grandkid will be strong enough to convince them to do it. Good luck!

I would tell them they are more than welcome to come visit after the baby has received their immunizations. And if they want to come earlier than that, they will need to get their own immunizations. I would just try to say it in a way that is factual, not argumentative. In the meantime they can always FaceTime. 

We had a similar situation with my in-laws, and this was their first grandchild. We gave them the choice to come soon after the birth and stay with us if they were immunized (they live in another country), or delay their trip until our baby was old enough to have her own vaccinations. My husband explained the dangers of pertussis in infants to them and emphasized that we weren't making them get the vaccine- only that they would not be welcome to stay in our home (or visit at all) so soon after the birth without it. They were happy to get the vaccine once they understood about the real dangers to newborns. I think your husband should do the explaining since it's parents, unless you are in the medical field. You could have a similar conversation with anyone in your family who might visit. Once our relatives realized we were serious about them not visiting, they didn't say another word and just did it. 

Tell them you’d love for them to see and meet their grandchild, and that anyone who comes to your home or holds the baby (or whatever the boundary is that youve set up) will have needed to have their vaccine. Ultimately you can’t force them to get vaccinated, but you can set and hold the boundary, and communicate it as kindly and respectfully as possible. I would be prepared for upset feelings and generally unpleasant conversations - I think it’s up to you to decide if that’s worth it. (For my family, it was, and it was also really tough.) Good luck - this stuff is so hard, and I hope it goes as smoothly as possible for you! 

Does their physician say they personally don’t need it, or specifically that they don’t need it to be around a newborn? 

I can see how difficult of a situation this is for your family and with them not believing in vaccines, you’re facing an uphill battle. BUT, you are the parents and you get to make the call. You have the right (and duty) to protect your child. They have the right to choose whether or not to get the vaccination, but NOT whether they get to visit the baby without it. The highest risks are for babies under 12 months, particularly under 6 months. I was comfortable saying “no vaccine, no baby,” but I know that doesn’t work for everyone. Ultimately you have to decide what is more important to you. In my mind, it’s a situation of baby’s health versus family feelings, and I will choose health every time. I couldn’t live with myself if I caved and something went wrong. I’m sure grandparents would feel awful, too. Try to find what’s most important to them and use that as a motivator. Are they about respecting personal decisions, about doing what’s best for family, about following authoritative advice? If you can’t motivate, you might just have to make the hard call: “No baby until x months without the vaccine. It’s your choice.” You can pick whatever age you are most comfortable with. Good luck! 

I told my family that anyone who wanted to be in the same room with my baby had to have TDAP and flu shot. My family is pro-science so it wasn’t an issue but if they hadn’t been I simply would have said “I’m sorry but I’m following our pediatrician’s recommendation and this means you will not be able to meet the baby in person. Let’s set up some Skype visits instead.” Pertussis is very serious and can be transmitted even if the person carrying it doesn’t feel that sick. Look up videos of babies with pertussis struggling to breathe and you will probably feel a great deal of equanimity about any offense your relatives may feel. It’s their choice to not get vaccinated, and it’s your choice to protect your baby. 

Your pediatrician says all grandparents need Tdap therefore you are following Dr instructions. End of story. Doesn't matter to matter what their doctor says since that Dr isn't treating the baby. If they want to see the baby, get the shot. Sorry you are going through this. We had to keep our closest friends away for the same reason. Your first job as a new parent is to protect your baby. Whooping cough in a baby is no joke and how would you feel (or how would the grandparents feel) if the baby caught pertussis from them? It would destroy more than the hurt feelings around the shot.

No vaccine. No visit.  Who is more at risk? A newborn or the misinformed older adults. They don’t  “believe” in vaccines? Do they not believe in blood pressure medication, cold medicines, cataract or hip surgery?  Hot water heaters? Airplanes? Cars?  What’s the matter with these people. Science is not selectively believable. Imagine a future conversation with your child- how would you explain, if she got sick and they weren’t vaccinated, why you allowed her to be exposed? 

First, get very clear directives from your doctor, and get on the same page with your husband.

It's dueling doctors, but their doctor's opinion is irrelevant, since your baby isn't his/her patient.  You need to follow YOUR doctor's directions, not theirs. Find out when your doctor thinks it might be safe for your baby to see non-immunized grandparents, and say you'll be delighted to see them then. 

Tell them you love them, and respect their wishes, and this is the only compromise that will give you peace of mind and that your doctor will agree to. Let the doctor be the bad guy, if you need to.

And if they agree to get the shot sooner, (just to shut you up), tell them your doctor's office requests a copy of their vaccine records.

Perhaps their POV is that the danger of the vaccine outweighs its benefits, but your primary job is to protect your child; it's not to please your in-laws. You and your husband don't need to argue this, since you're not going to shake their belief system, so state your position and then change the subject. You need to impress upon them that this is non-negotiable and not budge, even if they decide to fly out just to pressure you.

Again, assure them you love them and they can make any health-care decisions they want for themselves, with your support. But they don't make decisions for your kids.

My 2 cents. Good luck!

Oof, this is so hard. I'm sorry you have to deal with it! The risk of Pertussis is unfortunately very real, and on the rise here in the Bay Area (especially Marin and the North Bay, from what I've read). The California Dept of Public Health website states there have already been 492 cases in California already in 2019.

I think if it were my in-laws, I would just explain that there are ways we can protect the littlest among us who are too young to get vaccinated, and this is one of the simplest. It's really not that hard! If you don't feel like you can press them any further, I'd definitely screen them for symptoms before they come visit. Good luck and congratulations on your impending arrival! 

Thank you so very much for your concern and care for the new baby's well-being.  We are so blessed to have grandparents such as you, and I am so excited for to be a part of our baby's life.  I  want to ensure you that I have heard you, and value your opinions. They will be taken into account as we make our decision along with our pediatrician."

That's it.  Past that, it is none of their business.

Ugh.  We went through this too with our first kid.  We made the grandparents wait to visit until she had her TDAP.  We have another baby now, and now there are measels outbreaks occurring around the U.S.  I don't think the baby will get the MMR vaccine until he is a year old, so i'm considering what to do in that regard now.  Inlaws.  Sigh...

This is indeed a delicate situation. It is your right as a parent to protect your child, which includes minimizing exposure to non-vaccinated adults. I personally would suggest that you give them the option to either get the Tdap and visit at 1 month, or they wait another month or two when the child has at least had the first dose of Tdap at their 2 month pediatrician visit (although if it were my child I might be inclined to say wait until the 6 month mark, after the 3rd dose). Ultimately, if they chose to not get the shot, make sure that they are not sick when they visit, and that they wash their hands thoroughly upon entering the household and before interaction with your newborn.  Best of luck navigating this situation!

We sent a general email to our newborn's close family (his grandparents, uncles, aunts) that if that want to see our baby before he gets his immunizations then they need to get theirs. I think making it a blanket statement to everyone and not to specific people made them feel like it was not personal and that we were acting in the best interest of our child. I guess if you family feels very strongly about not getting the immunization you have the choice to either delay their visit or let them visit but not hold the child/be too close to the child or not force the issue. There is no right answer. In terms of feeling like they are not honoring your choices- are there other aspects that you feel like they would not respect? Because that to me sounds like a more general issue and could create a lot more issues. You are the parent and you get to decide for your child! Good luck! It's an exciting time for your family.

With all due respect to the grandparents, it's not *their* physician who's relevant -- it's yours. If your pediatrician says the grandparents need to be immunized, and that's also what you feel is best for your child, then the grandparents can't visit until they get the shot.

That said, you might also be able to finesse this situation with time. If, in the months after your baby is born, they're healthy, thriving, and fully vaccinated, it may be that you can check back in with your pediatrician about the level of risk and reassess the situation at that time. A one-month-old is a different creature than a six-month old, a nine-month-old, etc. I'm not a doctor so don't want to make medical recommendations, but assuming (and hoping!) all goes well, you might be able to have another convo with the pediatrician where you explain the situation and get their opinion based on your baby's age and health. 

Good luck! And so sorry you're having to deal with this. 

Every family is different, so I can only tell you how I've handled things like this, but there are likely to be more disagreements in your future about how to deal with your child (grandparents just tend to have their own way of doing things and won't always listen to new ideas, having successfully raised us, after all), and how you respond now will set the tone for the future. I'd put my foot down - no vaccinations, no baby time until the kid has had the necessary shots himself. But I know it's an emotional time and a tricky situation. Good luck!

Unvaccinated people should not have contact with newborn babies.  A month-old baby could die of whooping cough.  I would tell them that they can either get the shot or wait until the baby is older and has had more vaccinations, and a more mature immune system, before visiting in person.   Then it is up to them.  You should not endanger your infant in order to indulge their false beliefs about vaccine safety.   

It is your child and your responsibility to do what you think is best for that child. Others don't have to agree or even respect it, but then you are more than allowed to say, "I'm sorry, no one will be meeting our new little one in their first 3 months (or whatever it is as I can't recall) of life who hasn't had their Tdap." No discussion neccessary. Just like in some homes shoes are left outside. It's no a negotiation. The grandparents have a choice and choices have consequences.

I'd be super firm with no, they cannot visit until the baby is 5 years old and fully immunized. Their loss. Or they will come around. What does your husband say?

I am so sorry.  Like you need any more stress right now.  You are completely right to resist this.  Perhaps you can also get the child's soon to be pediatrician to share his/her medical advice.  The immunization is for the baby's well being - not theirs - so the pediatrician should have final say and maybe some ideas on how to approach!  

Not to be alarmist but you can also share this fun link about the rise of Whooping Cough in the greater Bay Area this winter and see if that doesn't help change their tune.

The paternal grandparents should abide by your wishes. Dad (whose parents refuse to get immunization) must tell his parents that contact between them and the new baby will be limited until baby is no longer at risk of getting the illnesses that could be transmitted. 

If I were you I'd stick to my guns on this one. At the end of the day you're the parent and all decisions you make about your child and his health must be honored. They made their choice to not get immunized and they have to live with the consequences. You shouldn't have to bend your will to their needs/wants. If the grandparents want to visit you should set whatever ground rules will make you comfortable like having them wear masks, not holding the baby etc. If you also don't want them near the child at all that's also your decision and they must respect it. I hope your significant other is supportive of you in this and won't lay the blame at your feet creating bad blood.

We are having the same issue, with both the flu shot and Tdap. The line we drew is that they can come visit, but not stay with us (they live in Los Angeles). They have not come yet, and our daughter is 2 months old. I don’t want to force them to get it, as surely it is a choice (and with my luck, they’ll have some reaction and resent us). However, this is the choice they are making- it is more important to them to not be vaccinated than to meet their granddaughter. My husband and I feel frustrated by it but feel it’s important to hold our ground and follow the advice of our pediatrician.

We all make sacrifices for our children. It’s a small sacrifice to make sure your grandchild survives following a 9 month pregnant year. Given the numbers of children that have been dying because of not being vaccinated or being around people who are not vaccinated, it’s the responsible thing to do to care for our most vulnerable members even if personally you’d do fine without it. Personally my stance has been without shots the closest you get is video call. It’s their choice but their choice will have consequences, just like if the baby got sick you’d never be able to forgive them and they might not be able to forgive themselves. It’s not worth it. 

Be empathetic and don't be personal. Work to preserve the relationship while maintaining your boundaries. For example, you could tell them that you would love to have them come and stay 6 months after his birth (or whenever is fine for you without them getting immunized) but that you are not allowing any visitors prior to that date who don't have the Tdap that your pediatrician recommended. Have your husband communicate with his parents and insist that this is a decision that both of you have agreed on and tell them that it would be too stressful for you to have them visit before that time. Tell them you understand that their doctor said something different but as new parents, you are choosing to follow the advice of your pediatrician whom you trust etc. Emphasize that you very much look forward to having them in your son's life!

Congrats on your new baby! Wishing you a healthy and happy delivery! This is an interesting question. I'm assuming you're most concerned about pertussis, not the other components of the vaccine. I guess I would ask, do you expect everyone who comes into contact with your baby to be vaccinated, because if so, that's just not going to happen. As is, one needs a booster shot every 10 years to protect against pertussis - have your parents had the shot or the booster in that time? You and your partner? Your ob? Your housecleaner? The people in the grocery store? Hospital workers?

I get that you are worried about germs and your impending little one, but there is a whole world of possible dangers out there (sorry to say), and if it is a matter of family harmony, I would not push this one. Your baby will be old enough to receive their vacs very soon and then you won't have to worry about this one, just a hundred thousand other worries. You could ask them to make sure they are healthy when they visit, wash their hands, etc. You've got this momma, deep breaths!

I would say “our pediatrician has told us that in order to protect the baby from disease that all visitors must have tdap until he is old enough to be vaccinated at 2 months. So it’s okay if you don’t get the shot as long as you wait until 2 months to visit.

Your baby your rules. I don't see how this is delicate unless you are depending on the grandparents for money or childcare. Just tell them if they want to see the baby they have to provide proof of vaccination. Don't argue. Set your bounderies and let them decide. 

We have had our share of grandparents’ idiosyncrasies and opinions when we became parents. We also had to navigate a lot of culture differences on both sides. For us, my husband and I had to present a united front first. Hopefully you and your partner are on the same page. If not, I’d work on that first. I think there are different ways to go about this, and you have to find what you are comfortable with. You could 1) state that the tdap is necessary and that’s that, else they cannot visit, 2) make it a discussion- try and find out why they are unwilling and try to work from there to ease their fears. Maybe they are scared of immunizations? Maybe you could say that the pediatrician not only recommends it but says it poses a very real health risk for your newborn. 3) You could try and support them through the vaccination, like arrange an appt for them at a CVS, pay for it, be there with them, etc., i.e. do everything possible to enable them to get it.

I agree with you that they should honor your wishes, esp in this respect. But you should also discuss with the pediatrician about whether it’s absolutely necessary, and if it is, you should stand your ground. But if it is not, then you have to see how much you value their need to see your child after 1 month, or if it can wait, say, 2 months, for your peace of mind. I know “honoring your wishes” is very important. For me, personally, I found I had to adapt my wishes as well and put aside some ego for the sake of having my children have a relationship with their grandparents. Other times, I held my ground because it wasn’t just ego but principle as well. In the end, the more people who love your children, the better off they are. You end up having to evaluate and re-evaluate what matters most all the time because it changes per circumstance. As long as you know why you decide on something- children are resilient and will weather through because you support them. Good luck!