immuno.jpgWhat precautions should I take if I’m having a party with babies that are too young to be immunized in attendance, and an unimmunized older child attends? The unimmunized child isn’t sick now but has been sick in the past with diseases for which there are shots. Should I make an effort to clean with Lysol all the areas where the unimmunized child drooled? I don’t even think I own any Lysol.

“Childhood vaccines have become an increasingly emotional topic,” said Dr. Avril Swan, a Noe Valley-based family practice doctor. “Parents are understandably confused by the subject and protective of their children. No one likes to see children in pain even for the brief period of time that it takes to get a vaccine. Having said that, most medical professionals agree that we are lucky to live in a time when we don’t see many vaccine preventable diseases due, in large part, to the success of our immunization program.”

Dr. Swan called this Appeal reader’s dilemna “difficult,” but offered a few suggestions, including breast milk. “The first thing I would say is that breast feeding passes along immunity of the mother to the child in question, so if you have the opportunity to provide breast milk to your infant from the start, this is always a great idea to help prevent infections of all sorts.”

She also suggested asking those invited to stay home if they fall ill. “This is reasonable even for children who have been fully immunized.”

Great precautionary advice – but what should our reader do? Dr. Swan says not to worry/use Lysol: “In the absence of a known illness, the chances of an asymptomatic child spreading a vaccine preventable disease are pretty low, simply because they have been protected by the herd immunity of others who are vaccinated. Is it reasonable to clean up with Lysol on the surfaces that the child in question has drooled upon? Yes, but I would encourage you to choose a less toxic cleaning product in general. There are lots of options out there that do a really good job cleaning up without the fumes and toxins that are in so many of the more popular cleansers.”

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