September 29, 2005

Daycare & Preschools Are Epicenters Of Flu Epidemics

Ring Around The Rosie indeed:

New data compiled by researchers at Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School, reported in October 1 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology, suggest that otherwise healthy 3- and 4-year-olds drive flu epidemics, a pattern that may warrant consideration when formulating immunization policy.

The researchers leveraged a real-time computerized biosurveillance system linking five diverse health-care settings in Greater Boston, and examined medical visits from 2000 to 2004. Children aged 3 to 4 clearly led influenza epidemics, presenting with flu-like respiratory illness as early as late September. Children aged 0-2 began arriving a week or two later, while older children first arrived in October and adults began arriving only in November.

Surveillance data suggest that preschoolers drive flu epidemics [eurekalert via robotwisdom]


particularly timely for those parents with infants born premature who will likely not qualify for coverage for a second season of rsv shots ( which cost >$1,200 a dose and must be administered monthly ) given that a non-trivial number of those flu-like respiratory symptoms will, in fact, be caused by rsv. thankfully, the bean counters have determined that only a relatively small percentage of those denied coverage will die or rack up $300K + hospital bills.

you can imagine the predicament the preemie parents ponder when they have to choose between paying $6-8K out of pocket for the shots versus putting their kids in ground zero without any bolstered defenses and playing the odds.

oh yaaay! Something else to discourage me from re-joining the workforce... because it's SO lovely to pay over half your salary for daycare and then have your child come home sick at least once a month. At least now they have scientifically gathered "evidence", it's not just anecdotal from the parents affected. blah!

That sucks about the RSV vax, Eric, I didn't know that it's not covered after the first season.

On the other hand, yeah, my oldest got sick a fair amount in preschool, but after a good bout of strep throat the first month of kindergarten, she has only been sick enough to miss school a couple of days since and is now in third grade. All things considered, I'd have rather her miss preschool than school.

Oddly, her brother is much healthier than she was (he's two), though he got more colds at a younger age, probably from being exposed to germs that she carried but didn't succumb to.

"That sucks about the RSV vax, Eric, I didn't know that it's not covered after the first season."

it is often "covered" in some fashion or another ( be it full or partial payment ) for the first season, but it's much less likely to get covered in the second season even though there's still an elevated risk associated with lower respiratory infections for infants born at 23-28 weeks.

What I'm worried about is this convincing law makers to make some sort of rule to add flu-shots to the list of vaccines kids have to have before entering daycare! Bah!

There was an article in the NYT a few weeks ago showing that flu shots are actually pretty mediocre at preventing the flu.

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