Grandparents, Get Those Vaccines

Grandparents, Get Those Vaccines

If you’re a grandparent, you’re always excited for a visit with the grandkids. But if you’re not taking care of your own health, you may be putting them in harm’s way. So here’s a must-do to protect your little loved ones from illnesses such as the flu, pneumonia and (especially) whooping cough: Make getting your vaccines a priority.

You may not even know you have an illness that could be extremely dangerous to your grandkids—as can be the case with whooping cough (also known as pertussis). While whooping cough is not as serious for adults, who experience an irritating cough for a few months, it can be deadly for children under two , as it may cause severe breathing difficulties.

According to the CDC, it’s important for anyone going to be around babies—especially infants younger than 6 months old, who are too young to be fully protected by childhood vaccinations—to get the Tdap vaccine for whooping cough. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to talk about it. To give the vaccine time to work, you’ll need to get it at least two weeks before you visit baby.

But it’s not the only shot you may need. Check out these guidelines for other essential vaccinations that will protect not only you, but your grandkids as well.

Shingles: If you’re 50 years old, you should get vaccinated for shingles, a painful skin rash that develops in people who have previously had chickenpox and causes extreme, debilitating pain. According to the CDC, if you have active shingles, you can pass the virus to children via skin contact—but instead of shingles, they’ll get chickenpox.

Flu: It’s not just grandparents and grandkids who need to get vaccinated for influenza—everyone should get a seasonal flu shot no matter what myths you hear(hint: it’s not going to make you sick). The CDC recommends everyone 6 months or older receive a flu vaccine every year. So decrease your chance of getting it and spreading it—especially to those unprotected grandkids under 6 months and the older children who may develop complications.

Pneumonia: According to the CDC, pneumonia, an infection of the lungs causing difficulty breathing and coughing, is the most common cause of death worldwide for children under age 5. However, vaccines—particularly the pneumococcal vaccine—can often prevent it. The CDC recommends that adults 65 or older and children under the age of 2 get vaccinated, as people in both age groups are especially susceptible to it.

Medically reviewed in June 2019.

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