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Published on January 16, 2012

Mercy offers new immunization "cocooning" to families of newborns

Mercy Medical Center’s Birthplace is initiating a new TDaP (vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) “cocooning” program – an important health initiative designed to give newborn babies an extra layer of protection from whooping cough before they go home from the hospital, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Mercy worked in close cooperation with Linn Co. Public Health to put this program in place.

Mercy is the first healthcare organization in the Cedar Rapids area to offer vaccination cocooning.  It works like this: Before the infant is discharged, Mercy offers TDaP vaccinations to family members and others who will be in close contact with the newborn.  The vaccinations are given primarily to prevent pertussis (whooping cough).   Pertussis is spread through the air after an infected person coughs or sneezes.  Infants are highly susceptible to the virus and cannot be vaccinated themselves until they are two months old.  Cases of pertussis typically increase in the winter months.  Often, caregivers are the carriers and don’t realize it. 

“It’s critical to keep babies healthy during this early period in their lives, as they are prone to more serious complications if exposed,” said Dr. Roger Allen, neonatologist at Mercy.  “Mercy is pleased to be leading the way in Cedar Rapids by offering this important vaccination to Birthplace families, further extending the family-centered care we provide.”

The TDaP vaccinations offered at Mercy’s Birthplace are administered by a registered nurse within the mother’s birth suite.  In addition to receiving the vaccine, families with newborns are urged to wash hands frequently, cover mouth and nose when sneezing and get yearly flu shots.

To learn more about Mercy’s Birthplace and its new TDaP cocooning initiative, call 319-398-6332 or visit www.mercycare.org/birthplace.