Area Hospitals Step Up Efforts To Keep Newborns Flu-Free

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WACO (January 20, 2014) Over the weekend, the CDC labeled this year’s flu season a national epidemic.

And as cases continue to develop across Central Texas, doctors and parents are focusing hard on keeping newborns under six months of age that can’t get a flu shot, flu-free.

In early January, the first flu reported death in Central Texas ended up being a two week old baby girl from Bell County.

Area hospitals are stepping up efforts, doing whatever they can to keep newborns from contracting the virus.

In the newborn wing at Providence Hospital in Waco, almost all hospital staff is required to have a flu shot, and flu education is being touted to every expecting parent.

At Baylor Scott and White in Temple, similar protocols are being followed.

Some are even screened at the hospital before coming to visit a newborn at Providence.

Area pediatricians at News 10’s flu bank last week said the best thing you can do to protect a newborn is to quarantine those living around him or her.

Also, if the mother has received a flu shot, doctors say it’s a good idea to breast feed, because the infant will receive some immunity from the mother.

The death of the Bell County newborn left Waco mom Rae Snyder heartbroken.

"You get that shock through your heart like ‘what if this was my kid?’” Snyder said.

“You have the feeling that you're the one in charge and if he were to get sick how you keep from adding to the mortality rate."

Snyder is a mother of three. Her youngest is named Everett and was born three weeks ago, just days before the Bell County infant was reported dead.

Snyder has quarantined her household; everyone living there has received the flu shot. However, she is trying to do more.

She tries to keep Everett on her at all times using a baby wrap, and strives to keep him germ free wherever she takes him.

"I feel guilty sometimes when people come over and I ask them to wash their hands before touching Everett or even telling people they can't hold him or telling people to not come over if they feel sick, it makes you feel rude sometimes but you can't take risks you have to be a little more aggressive," Snyder said.

Adding flu protection to an already long list of mommy duties can be tedious, but health officials say during a flu season this rampant, it’s the little things that count.