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    Vaccines Make Day Care Healthier

    Immunization Helps Reduce Infections Among Kids in Day Care

    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.

    Ear Infections

    Since the 2000 introduction of a pneumococcal vaccine to prevent ear infections in children under 2, cases have dropped by at least 20%, studies show.

    Sold as Prevnar, the pneumococcal vaccine attacks seven strains of the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae that can cause ear infections.

    Researchers reported earlier this week that the vaccine has had a worrisome side effect, spurring the development of a superbug resistant to all the antibiotics used to treat ear infection.

    "Nevertheless, there's no doubt day care is safer than ever thanks to the vaccine," says Robert Cohen, MD, professor of pediatrics at the Hospital of Cretiel in Saint Maur, France.

    He says parents should continue to have their toddlers immunized as the vaccine prevents serious illness and even saves lives.

    Tips for Choosing a Safe Day Care Center

    While day care is safer than ever, your kid can, and probably will, still catch a cold, flu, or other infection at some point. But you can minimize the risk of illness by putting some time into choosing a child care center, Pickering says.

    Among the experts' tips:

    • Make sure that all people at the day care have been properly immunized and that there's a notification process when kids get ill.
    • Make sure the day care has proper hand-washing arrangements, with plenty of sinks and soap.
    • Make sure kids aren't kept in the same room all the time.

    "We are doing a good job at keeping day care safe, but we need to be vigilant," Pickering says.

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