Wednesday, 8 October 2008

That's the Way It Always Starts

Upon returning from our vacation we were greeted by a sign posted at the entrance to Dylan’s childcare stating they had one case of chickenpox at the kinder room. Since Dylan will only be receiving his chicken immunization at 18 months, we quickly became worried. No, we were reassured, it was only one case at a room different to Dylan’s where a child caught it from his sister who caught it at school; no worries, please.
We had a look on the web and learnt that chickenpox has an incubation period of 14 to 21 days, so theoretically speaking Dylan may have it already and we wouldn’t know. The sickness takes you out of action for a few weeks and for a baby Dylan’s age can scar you for life through scratching: Dylan is at an age where telling him not to scratch himself is a waste of voice and wrapping his hands with gloves would be a major upset given his affection to sucking his thumb.
We also learnt that chickenpox is quite dangerous for adults. Jo has received a booster immunization while pregnant and according to my parents I was immunized at the ages of 1 and 7 (as chickenpox requires a “reminder” immunization some 5 years after the initial immunization). Personally, I wouldn't trust my immune system in the least; therefore, the only way of knowing whether you’re really immunized is to have your blood tested for its antibodies. Still, we didn’t have a reason to worry, did we?
Well, yesterday we were greeted by an update to the previous announcement: now childcare has two confirmed cases of chickenpox, albeit still in the kinder room. Then again, all the kids are mixed together in the mornings and in the evenings, so can we really trust this separation? Besides, we’ve seen that movie before when Dylan caught his hand foot and mouth bug: things started exactly the same way, with one “no worries” case escalating to two no worries and something like ten confirmed cases, Dylan included, the following week.
We’ve inquired with the doctor today about immunization. If we want to go ahead with it we’d have to pay $60 out of pocket (plus the doctor’s visit, which is another $62 before a $32 Medicare rebate). As it is, the Australian government will only pay for the immunization if it is done after the baby is 18 months old; yet to us it is obvious that the damage costs of a chickenpoxed Dylan will severely outweigh those $60. Once immunized, he may still get grilled but it should be a relatively easy affair that would pass within a week.
Do drop by at the clinic near us to see Dylan get his immunization on Monday!


Uri said...

But what if he already has it?

BTW, what exactly would you like the daycare to do? Close down for 21 days until they're sure no one is sick? (not that that would work, of course)

Moshe Reuveni said...

According to the doctor, if he already has chickenpox the vaccine wouldn't make a difference. If he caught it within the last 72 hours before being vaccinated it should make the affair significantly easier (a week off with mild symptoms as opposed to a rough month).

With regards to what I think our childcare place should have done:
I think they should just quit with this pretend "no worries" attitude. When your child is sick you need a doctor's certificate to say that he's Ok before taking him back to childcare; but when they have something going on it's "no worries". For example, what is the point of them telling you not to worry because the disease has been confined to a room different to your baby's when they know and you know that all the kids share the same room in the mornings and in the evenings?
In my opinion they should be matter of fact oriented: Say that there's a potential outbreak and recommend what can be done about it; it would be up to you to decide whether to implement the recommendations or not. Especially when they know that babies only get vaccinated for chickenpox at 18 months and that they have younger babies than that at their facilities.

In conclusion, I find it amazing how effective a conduit for diseases childcare is.
Check this out: During the month we were away doing our trip around the world, Dylan had absolutely nothing wrong with him. However, the week before going away he has had a slight cold, and immediately after coming back he caught a cold; two weeks later he's had an ear infection.
American authorities now recommend babies get immunized for flu as of the age of 6 months because it's through childcare facilities that flu is mostly distributed. Come flu vaccination season, we will be checking things out with our doctor.