This week, a parent with a baby in the NICU at Auckland City Hospital tested positive for COVID 19. The next day, a newborn tested positive at North Shore hospital after being visited by their father, who then tested positive.
It’s pretty much every family’s nightmare.
I don’t think I have to tell anyone what COVID 19 is. It’s serious. It’s killed over four and a half million people across the world – and that’s likely to be an undercount – and caused ongoing health issues even for people who survive. It impacts everyone who needs healthcare because if the hospitals are full of COVID patients, other people aren’t able to get care.
Our littlest ones can’t get vaccinated against COVID 19 (and a lot of adults either can’t, because of severe allergic reactions, or if they can, aren’t able to build as strong an immune response). That’s one reason it’s our responsibility as parents to get vaccinated: for them. The more people in their community who are vaccinated, the less likely it is COVID can get a foothold and break out in that community.
If you’re pregnant, or breastfeeding baby (or feeding them your expressed milk via bottle) the other reasons are really practical: there’s evidence that getting vaccinated means your immune system creates antibodies which pass on to baby either in the womb or through breastmilk. It’s not going to be as strong as vaccination, but every little bit helps.
And circling back to the first reason: getting immunized, in turn, makes it safer for babies whose parents aren’t able to breastfeed.
Vaccines are the reason we don’t have smallpox any more. We’ve all but eradicated polio in most countries, because of vaccination. In Aotearoa, we already immunise our babies against a lot of things like measles, whooping cough and pneumococcal disease, to stop them getting sick and to stop those diseases spreading in our communities and whānau. We’ve been really, really good at locking down and staying home and washing our hands to stop COVID running rampant through our neighbourhoods; getting vaccinated is another sensible, important step, to take care of each other and to be able to relax our public health measures.
Please. Get vaccinated.
After I drafted this post, Marama Davidson (queen, icon, wahine toa) made a really important Twitter thread about convincing members of her whānau to get vaccinated. If you think that thread, or even this post, might help convince someone – share it far and wide.