Expecting mothers routinely receive Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) and influenza vaccines during their prenatal appointments, but according to OneWorld Community Health Educator Pat O’Hanlon, R.N, it’s important for anyone who will be holding a new baby to receive these vaccinations. Pertussis (whooping cough) and the flu can be life-threatening for newborns, and if only the baby’s mother is vaccinated, then the risk for exposure is increased.
In 2013, O’Hanlon and Donna Faber, M.D., created a program to help families receive free Tdap vaccinations before a new baby’s arrival. They called it the Fathers Program, but the service is available for any family member who will be in close contact with the baby.
“If a pregnant woman comes into the OneWorld Women’s Health Center, and the father of the baby is there, too, we can say ‘Hey, do you want a vaccine?’” O’Hanlon said. “It’s free, and it takes two minutes to protect your baby.”
The Fathers Program ensures that babies go home to healthy, safe environments.
“I want to give a shout-out to the Women’s Health Center and all the nursing assistants and nurses who give the shots,” O’Hanlon said. “The program goes above and beyond for our patients, but it also exceeds expectations for workers to put the extra work into the program.”
Thanks to generous donations from AmeriCares, the Fathers Program has provided 1,300 family members with free vaccines. O’Hanlon acknowledged that vaccines are expensive — each shot costs $30 to $35, which means the Fathers Program has given approximately $45,500 worth of vaccines to the community. Donations from Nebraska Beef and Methodist Health System also allow family members to receive flu vaccines if needed.
“We couldn’t have the program without the generosity of these organizations,” O’Hanlon said. “Their gifts are generous donations to the community. …We make sure we’re maximizing our resources to the fullest and getting the most bang for our buck.”