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Are we too clean? Experts on immunity

12:29 AM, Jan 4, 2013   |    comments
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GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Health experts are advising people to get the flu vaccine, use hand sanitizer and take other steps to avoid catching the flu this season -- but can we be too careful and clean?

Daycare centers are taking steps to fight the spread of the flu.  Workers encourage children to wash their hands frequently and use sanitizer.

"It's never too much," says daycare operator Jacqueline Sain.  "You have to keep them safe."

Experts say there's never too much you can do to keep your child from getting sick -- especially when it comes to the flu. 

Kim Greenwald, the infection control coordinator for Saint Mary's Health Care, says the notion of a child's immunity -- exposing them to the flu -- doesn't work with this bug.

"If the strain that's going around now that you get, and you get sick, not having a flu shot, will not necessarily protect you next year," Greenwald says.

The current flu strain spreading nationally is the same or similar to the one that spread ten years ago.

"There might be some immunity if you had the flu back then, but it's not going to be enough to protect you from this year's flu," she says.

Experts say allergies are a different story.  Research shows children who attend daycare or live on a farm seem to show a lower rate of allergies, as they are exposed to more allergens and build up defenses. 

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