Vaccinations and Cloth Nappies

A very common question at Apikali is…Can I use cloth nappies after vaccinations?

Unfortunately doctors and health care nurses advise not too, due to the live vaccine virus in poo, while we say you can. Who do you believe? What is the best practice for your child? What do you do?
Firstly if you are in doubt, concerned, worried or just unsure after all the information you have read, use disposables. Its ok, really. Parenting is about choices, about doing what is best for you AND baby.
But here is what we know. Sally and I have written this together as we are both Dr of Philosophy. This does not mean we are medical doctors, we would NEVER pretend or lure you to believe that. We are Dr of Philosophy in Economics. Basically this means we are just really good at critiquing information and bringing it together for you.
Here is what we have found out.
The only live vaccine virus available on the Australian Immunization Schedule is Rota virus. Currently it is given at 2, 4, 6 months. So 3 doses for your little baby, and given orally. Basic rota virus information can be found here, along with other information on other vaccinations.
There are 2 strains of rota virus used in Australia: Rotarix and RotaTeq. Lets firstly discuss Rotarix. This is administated in TAS, ACT, NSW and NT currently. For further information about the injection and anything else applicable to it, see this medical report required by Government. From this report they state the following:
“Excretion of the vaccine virus in the stools [poo] occurs after vaccination and lasts for 10 days on average with peak excretion around the 7th day. Viral antigen particles detected by ELISA were found in 50% of stools after the first dose and 4% of stools after the second dose.” (Pg 7)
So basically the virus is in the stool up to 10 days after vaccination, but only half the babies have it detected in their poo after their first dose at 2 months, and 4 out of every 100 babies have it in their stool at 4 months. Could we assume there is a minimal chance of it being in their poo at 6 months?  (Agree Sally? Diff info to Darlings Downunder.)
Another information site states that 80% of infants given this strain will excrete the virus in stools for the first injection, and 30% will excrete the virus again in the second injections.
Now The RotaTeq vaccine is administered in all of the other States of Australia. According to this standard report, just under 9% of babies shed the virus in their stools within one week of the vaccine. Another site states that 13% of babies will shed the virus in their stools after the first dose.
So there is a small risk of the Rotavirus being transmitted to other members of a household if proper hand washing and disposal of stools is followed. Ensure you wash your hands with soap and water, thoroughly.
What should you do with your cloth nappies then? Wash them as soon as you can in a warm wash. Add an antibacterial rinse if you feel like it. Dry them in the sun for the sanitizing benefits of sunlight.
When do you need to be careful after vaccination? When someone in your home has a compromised immune system. This could mean someone who is ill, has cancer, gets sick quickly. They are just more susceptible to virus, including Rota virus. If this is the case you can either not use cloth nappies or follow very strict hand washing and washing routines.
In the Apikali household, our Abbey has a compromised immune system. Abbey is my first born, so her brothers were given the Rota virus after her. In all cases I continued to use cloth nappies. I ensure I washed my hands really well (grab a good moisturizer too for your hands), I wash on a warm cycle, dried in the sun and ensure for about a week I stayed on top of it all. I also ensured I split the cloth nappy stash so Abbey had hers and the boys had their nappies for that week.
Its your choice. Good hygeine is always your friend when using cloth nappies.
Your cloth docs
Tennille and Sally

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