DALLAS — So long, summer! Seems impossible, but lots of kids in North Texas go back to school in one week. And it’s not just pencils and notebooks that teachers put on the school supply list. It's hand sanitizer, too.
Is that necessary? Is there any proof hand sanitizer can keep kids healthy?
For answers, I'm looking at research papers and interviewing Dr. Christopher Bettacchi. He's an infectious disease specialist at Baylor University Medical Center.
“Are hand sanitizers good public health?” I asked Bettacchi.
“Hand sanitizers are definitely an excellent public health measure, yes,” he said.
This report, in the American Journal of Infection Control, found hand sanitizer is an excellent alternative to hand washing. It says, "decontamination of hands can be carried out either by handwashing with soap or by use of waterless hand sanitizers, which reduce contamination on hands by removal or by killing the organisms..."
OK. So hand sanitizers work.
But how important are they in a school setting? One article is called "Effect of hand sanitizer use on elementary school absenteeism." Pretty spot on!
The authors found an "overall reduction in absenteeism due to infection in the schools included in this study was 19.8% for schools that used an alcohol gel sanitizer…"
That's pretty impressive. And it was a 10% reduction for teachers.
“It's a smart thing to do and there is medical science behind it. Documented studies to show that using hand sanitizer can reduce respiratory illness, reduce GI illnesses, can reduce infections of people whose immune systems are a little lower,” Bettacchi said.
So, if your kid’s teacher is asking for hand sanitizer, by all means...send it.
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