Jeff Gordon & Wife Ingrid On Vaccines, Baby Leo & The Joys Of Parenthood

Jeff Gordon and Ingrid Vandebosch welcomed their second child, son Leo Benjamin, in August. The NASCAR star and his lovely wife are raising awareness about the Tdap booster vaccine which helps protect not only ourselves against pertussis (whooping cough), it also helps reduce the risk of transmitting the disease to our newborn children.

The Gordons opened up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about their involvement with the Sounds of Pertussis Campaign, their newborn son Leo who was named after a supermodel, and their 3-year-old daughter Ella Sofia who loves being a big sister.

CBS: You received your Tdap booster vaccine to help protect yourselves against pertussis (whooping cough) and to help reduce the risk of transmitting the disease to your newborn son. Please tell us more about this important cause.

Ingrid: “I was surprised I knew so little about Pertussis and how I was not informed by my doctor about it. It is serious and could even be deadly for babies.

As parents we are all trying to do everything we can to protect our children and this is something Leo or Ella could get from me or my husband. So when I learned about Pertussis during my second pregnancy with our son I made sure to get my shot as soon as I could after he was born.”

Jeff: “Pertussis is a highly contagious disease and is often mistaken for a common cold or bronchitis in adults and adolescents, but can be very serious – even deadly – for babies. Even though Ingrid and I have a 3-year-old daughter, Ella, we had no idea we needed an adult pertussis booster and that, without it, we were putting her at risk. That is why we felt it was important to be part of the Sounds of Pertussis Campaign, because getting vaccinated with a Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis) booster is such a simple step that parents can take to help protect themselves and their babies.

Many adults don’t know that they are susceptible to contracting pertussis themselves, or that they pose a risk to the babies in their lives because they can easily spread this highly contagious disease. In addition, many parents don’t even know that there is a vaccine to help protect themselves and reduce the risk of spreading pertussis to babies. You can find more information on the campaign by visiting”

CBS: When do you receive the shots? Did you both receive the vaccine? Is there more than one vaccine (is a booster required)? Should everyone in the household get the vaccine?

Ingrid: “We both received shots and informed our family about it and they also made sure they received their shots. I got my shot after Leo was born in August.”

Jeff: “With our new baby boy, we weren’t taking any chances—we got vaccinated. I got my shot in June.

The vaccine that Ingrid and I received is actually an adult booster vaccine for pertussis, known as the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis) booster. It is currently recommended as a one-time booster shot for adults.

Ingrid and I learned about the booster during her pregnancy, and she was vaccinated right after she gave birth.

Through the Sounds of Pertussis Campaign, Ingrid and I are encouraging new parents to learn more about the adult pertussis Tdap booster, talk to their health-care provider, and to get vaccinated.”

CBS: With so many people concerned about vaccines, how can we be sure this is a safe immunization?

Jeff: “We aren’t medical experts, but we trust our physician the experts at the CDC who recommend the booster for everyone between the ages of 11 and 64.”

Ingrid: “As Jeff said we are not experts but I trust the research that is done and asked our doctor so we can make the best choices to protect ourselves and reduce the risk of spreading the disease to our children.”

CBS: Do you vaccinate your kids? What is your stance on the vaccine vs. non-vaccine debate?

Jeff: “Our 3-year-old daughter, Ella, is up-to-date on her DTaP vaccination, and our new baby, Leo, will get his immunizations on schedule as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

We support vaccinations. Getting vaccinated is a safe and effective way for people to stay healthy and slow the spread of disease.”

CBS: How is baby Leo doing? What kind of baby is he? Are you getting any sleep? Do the 2 of you take turns doing midnight feeds, etc.?

Ingrid: “Leo is doing great. He is a very good baby, he loves his food! Jeff is very hands on and he is there to help in any way he can.

Jeff: “Leo is a happy and healthy baby, and while getting enough sleep can be challenging at times, holding our son in our arms makes it all worth it. I try to help Ingrid out as much as possible with the baby. Whether it’s changing Leo’s diaper, going to his doctor appointments, or a midnight feeding, I am a hands-on dad.”

CBS: How did you come up with the name Leo Benjamin?

Ingrid: “Well that is a funny story! I was at a clothing store in the Hamptons walking around just a week away from giving birth and I bumped into Christie Brinkley. Her daughter asked me if I was having a boy or a girl and if we had a name picked out yet. I told her the 2 names we had to pick from but we’re not sure. Christie asked me if he will be born in August and I said yes, and she said, ‘Why don’t you name him Leo?’ We had not considered that name but it sounded great with the middle name we had chosen and his last name. I went home and suggested it to Jeff and he liked it. I hope he appreciates that he was named by a supermodel one day.”

CBS: How is Ella adjusting to being a big sister?

Ingrid: “Ella was looking forward to the arrival of her little brother. Every morning she would ask me, ‘Is he coming today?’ She is very sweet to him and tells him she loves him all the time. She even helps me give him a bath, put his clothes in the hamper and throw the diapers away. She does have her moments when she just wants her mama to herself.”

Jeff: “Ella loves being a big sister. She helps her mom change diapers and takes long walks in the park. One of her favorite shirts is ‘I am the BIG sister.’ ”

CBS: Does Ella show an interest in race cars?

Ingrid: “Ella loves watching her papa race. She dances in front of the TV and yells, “Go papa go, faster, faster.’ ”

CBS: Is baby Leo’s nursery filled with race car decor?

Ingrid: “His nursery is blue and white. Not too many racing items just 2 little toy cars and a red fire truck.”

CBS: Are you hoping Leo will also be a race car driver? What about Ella?

Ingrid: “We will see what his interests are and support him in the choice he makes. Ella wants to be a doctor or a teacher for now.”

Jeff: “I adore my children and hope they find something in life they are passionate about that I can help encourage just as my parents did for me with racing at such an early age.”

CBS: If you are working on any other projects or with any charities, please feel free to discuss.

Ingrid: “I am very proud to be involved with the Pertussis campaign and to help spread the word and encourage others to get their booster shots.

I also provide as much help I can with the Jeff Gordon Foundation and with the children’s hospital. I also started a foundation called the Woman’s Promise Circle. We are a group of woman giving our help in raising money for cancer research.

Jeff: “In addition to working on the Sounds of Pertussis Campaign, [I also support] a national public awareness campaign from the March of Dimes and Sanofi Pasteur focusing on educating adults about the potential dangers of pertussis or whooping cough, I founded the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation to support children battling cancer.

The Sounds of Pertussis campaign educates adults on how they can help protect themselves from getting pertussis and reduce the risk of giving the disease to babies, by getting vaccinated with a tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) booster.

The Foundation funds programs that improve patients’ quality of life, treatment programs that increase survivorship and pediatric medical research dedicated to finding a cure. It also provides support to the Jeff Gordon’s Children’s Hospital in Concord, N.C., which serves children in the community by providing a high level of primary and specialty care, regardless of their ability to pay.”


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  1. California’s awful experience reinforces the need for teens and adults to get that pertussis booster. Thanks Jeff and family for raising awareness!

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