Q: Is it OK for parents of newborns to ask family and friends to get vaccinated before visiting the baby?

A: While immunization has become a political issue in some circles, that hasn’t changed the fact that it still is primarily a parenting issue. Parents have a right to ensure that their child is safe from potential exposure to disease.

While we can’t control for public exposure, like when taking an infant to the grocery store, parents can insist that family members who will be in regular, close contact with the child be immunized.

But keep in mind that the other family members have the right to choose not to get immunized. If that happens, the parents should consider other ways extended family can build a relationship with the child. This might mean allowing the family members to visit but not hold the baby. Consult with your doctor to determine how close the contact must be for disease transmission.

This issue should never be an excuse to cut off all contact with family members. When discussing this matter, maintain a respectful tone that does not offend or personally attack others.

ALYSON SCHAFER, parenting expert and author of “Honey, I Wrecked the Kids”


A: No, you can’t demand that other people get vaccinated or vaccinate their children. However, it is OK to ask if they have been vaccinated. If they haven’t, then it’s up to you to decide whether you want your baby potentially exposed to vaccine-preventable diseases.

If you decide to keep the baby separated from nonvaccinated people, talk to your doctor about how long that should be. With some diseases, waiting even just a few months lowers the risk of germs spreading.

It’s understandable that you might be wary of creating issues with friends and family. But much of parenting involves creating boundaries. Always keep in mind that your child must remain your top priority.

TARYN CHAPMAN, founder of the Vaccine Mom