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Vaccines Make Day Care Healthier

Immunization Helps Reduce Infections Among Kids in Day Care

Influenza

The influenza vaccine is 54% to 87% effective in day-care-aged kids, says Janet Englund, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Researchers haven't tracked how that translates into reductions in disease. But in one day care center that she studied, Englund says the overall incidence of disease is now five cases per 100 child-years, "which is lower than in the past."

Vaccinating your child protects not only the youngsters' health, but also that of other family members as well, she says.

In one study of kids aged 5 to 12, for example, doctor visits for the flu by family members dropped nearly 40% after the kids got their shots.

Englund tells WebMD that anecdotal evidence suggests that vaccinating your toddler will have just as robust an effect on the family's health.

And with the FluMist nasal spray vaccine winning FDA approval for healthy children as young as 2, vaccination rates may further increase, experts say. Previously, the vaccine was only approved for those aged 5 and older.

Meningitis

Since the Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) meningitis vaccination was developed, rates of invasive disease among children under 5 have declined by more than 95%, according to the CDC.

Invasive meningococcal disease occurs in three common clinical forms: meningitis, blood infection, and pneumonia.

Pickering adds that overall, there were 20,000 cases per year in the pre-vaccine era. Now there are only a few hundred, he says.

Hepatitis A

Licensed in the mid-1990s, the hepatitis A vaccine has had "a remarkable effect in lowering disease rates, particularly among kids in day care," Pickering says.

An Israeli study showed that there had been no outbreaks in day care centers since the vaccine was introduced, he says.

In the U.S., the CDC has not tracked trends specifically among the day care set. But overall, a survey of 11 Western states showed there were 20 cases per 100,000 Americans in the pre-vaccine era, he says. Now the figure stands at 1.5 cases per 100,000 people.

Diarrhea

About 1 in 8 children under age 2 visits the doctor each year for infection with the rotavirus, which causes diarrhea; 1 in 70 is hospitalized, Pickering says.

Affected kids also bring the bug home, where 15% of family members get sick, on average, he says.

Since the RotaTeq rotavirus vaccine was only licensed last year, there are no good surveillance figures yet, according to Pickering. "But I expect we'll see a significant drop in infections," he says.

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