What happens when we ask parents with sick (or unvaccinated) kids to stay away

My son saw a doctor 28 times before he turned 1 year old — roughly once every two weeks. It was miserable but not wholly unexpected. I knew when he started day care he would get sick; I just didn’t know how much. With every illness came the gut-wrenching reminder that I couldn’t protect him from everything, and equally awful: I knew he would probably infect others, too.

As a public health professional with a decade of infectious disease experience, I knew how to take precautions, but diseases can be passed on before symptoms appear, and you can’t put your kiddo in a bubble — no matter how much you’d like to.

So we passed on play dates for fear those sniffles were the start of something worse. We left parties early or missed them entirely. And we asked some pretty uncomfortable questions: Did you wash your hands? Can we postpone until after his cough clears? Are your kids vaccinated? Are you vaccinated?

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