Health experts worried about vaccine hesitancy heading into holidays, not just with COVID-19 vaccine

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — If you’re planning to gather for the holidays, health experts are reminding that now is the time to get vaccinated not just for COVID-19, which has been making headlines, but for other transmittable diseases too.

While much attention has been paid to the COVID-19 vaccine this year, the Texas Medical Association (TMA) is reminding that flu is also a threat, especially this year, and for infants, pertussis, or whooping cough is always a big concern.

“Certainly, you need to make sure that you’re up to date on all your vaccines, particularly if we’re talking about pregnant women or if we’re talking about people who will be in contact with young infants,” said Dr. C. Mary Healy, an associate professor of pediatrics specializing in infectious disease at the Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital and a member of the Texas Medical Association.

Whooping cough can cause severe illness and be fatal for infants who are too young to be immunized. Babies under 1-year-old are at the greatest risk.

Here’s what’s recommended under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to protect against it: 

  • The Tdap vaccination is recommended for adolescents and adults – including parents, siblings, and grandparents – who will have contact with the infant.
  • For best protection, the vaccine should be administered to family members at least two weeks before they have contact with the baby. That means family members still have time before holiday gatherings to get the shot to protect the baby.
  • A pertussis vaccination is recommended for pregnant women during their third trimester, which is when the father and other household family members should get the shot too.

“They really should be vaccinated against everything that they can be vaccinated,” Healy said.

As the COVID-19 vaccine has become a political topic, health leaders are concerned about hesitancy as they make this plea for people get their general vaccines this year.

“But I think really we need to think about caring for others and that means getting vaccinated,” Healy said. “Get your vaccines, get your boosters and do everything you can to protect your loved ones.”

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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