Monday, June 25, 2007

Review of Vaccinated: One Man's Quest to Defeat the World's Deadliest Diseases

Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases. By Paul A.
Offit, M.D. NY: Harper Collins, 2007. 272 pages. $26.95.

Late in November of 2002, according The New York Times journalist Donald G. McNeil, Jr’s article “When Parents Say No to Vaccinations (30 Nov. 2002), Vashon Island, a small, somewhat prosperous enclave across from West Seattle via a 20-minute ferry ride, experienced an outbreak of the measles. Not really a big deal overall, but the scenario is increasingly less rare these days, not because measles is becoming immune to the common vaccine, but because, like the residents of Vashon Island, many parents and guardians are becoming, in the common idiom, “philosophically exempt” from normal vaccination requirements: “exemptions that in Washington and several other states, including California and Colorado, can be claimed simply by signing a school form” (McNeil, 2002).

Vashon Island is, as I said above, no longer atypical; I have repeatedly heard on news reports and in articles in various newspapers and magazines, concerns over health problems that many parents directly attribute to vaccinations: mercury in the vaccine, a terrifying correspondence between the rise in vaccinations and the increase in autism, and horrifying side effects that often include illnesses worse than the disease treated by the vaccine. Although I firmly believe any of the pharmaceuticals available should safer and better, what the well-intentioned parents and guardians fail to realize, largely because most of them did not live prior to the vaccinations we take for granted, particularly those that give us the upper hand against polio, measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, hepatitis B and chicken pox, is that what may seem just minor illnesses remain potent dangers and are still possibly deadly.

Rubella, or German measles, according to Paul A. Offit’s Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases, may only cause a minor red rash on the person who develops the disease, but if a pregnant woman contracts it, her baby, more often than not, can be born blind, mentally retarded, or dead as a result. Mumps, which most people think of today as an amusing disease where the sufferer’s face simply swells up, is also very dangerous: “In the 1960s, mumps virus infected a million people in the United States every year. Typically the virus attacked the glands just in front of the ears, causing the children to look like chipmunks. But sometimes the virus also infected the lining of the brain and spinal cord, causing meningitis, seizures, paralysis, and deafness. The virus didn’t stop there. It also infected men’s testes, causing sterility, and pregnant women, causing birth defects and fetal death. And it attacked the pancreas, causing diabetes” (Offit 22). In under a decade, the vaccine worked well enough that we could laugh at Bobby Brady’s silly worries that he may get the mumps because he kissed a girl who was infected; it is amazing that a serious childhood disease could be the subject for comedy!

Offit’s book, therefore, comes at a very important time and stands, not just as an important biography of Maurice Hilleman, the man who nearly single-handedly worked to create most of the vaccines for the diseases listed above, but as a testament to our need to keep our children vaccinated. The book itself is a tour de force through Hilleman’s life and genius at being able to make exactly what was needed, and often to begin to make them before an epidemic erupted. For example, it was Hilleman who recognized that the flu virus recycled itself, so to speak, and that influenza pandemics seemed to come every sixty-eight years, realizing that “This is the length of the contemporary life-span ... [which suggests] that there may need to be a sufficient subsidence of host immunity before a past virus can regain access and become established as a new human influenza virus in the population” (Offit 19). Because of his actions at developing a flu vaccine against the virus that caused the 1889 pandemic (the H2 virus), thousands of Americans lives were spared in 1957 when it returned, whereas four million people, who did not have the proper vaccine, died elsewhere of the same virus. This same strain is set to attack us again in 2025 and Hilleman said, tongue in cheek, that his prediction for its arrival is more reliable than “the writings of Nostradamus or the Farmer’s Almanac (19); sadly, Hilleman died in early 2005.

Although the book is, in my opinion, a direct, unapologetic, and authoritative response to those who are problematically denying their children and wards the chances most of us take for granted, namely a life without worry over diseases that rampaged through prior generations, it does get quite heavy-handed in many places, and its tone too easily becomes a somewhat irritating homage to Hilleman. Offit’s sentences read more like the sentiments from Leonardo/Total Television’s 1963 cartoon The World of Commander McBragg, whose theme song claimed “With a canon in hand, he can beat any man. He can do anything ...” In that sense, the book is quite off-putting – I welcome a biography of a gifted scientist, researcher, and humanitarian, but I am skeptical of any narrative that offers a story that is so unabashedly glowing in every angle its reporting. Few obstacles, it seems, stood their ground before Hilleman.

In one case, Hilleman needed specially bred chickens to help him develop his measles vaccine (all vaccines are grown in animal or human organs, but most are initially developed in eggs). He went to Kimber Farms in Fremont, California, to ask the owner, W.F. Lamoreaux, if he could buy all of his leukemia-free chickens; he asked Lamoreaux several times for the chickens, suggesting that Lamoreaux could directly and positively affect future children’s lives, and to each request Lamoreaux refused. As Hilleman was leaving, “he stopped, turned around, and tried one more time. Recognizing a familiar accent, he asked Lamoreaux where he was from. ‘Helena’ said Lamoreaux. ‘Miles City’ replied Hilleman, extending his hand. ‘Take them all’ said Lamoreaux, smiling broadly. ‘One buck apiece.’ The first measles vaccine required a virologist and a chicken breeder. If both hadn’t been born and raised in Montana, the road to a lifesaving vaccine might have been much longer” (Offit 55). Scenes like this are often quite satisfying in movies, but in a biography, particularly a biography of a gifted scientist written by the head of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, they come across as ostensibly amateurish and unbelievable.

Another example that is actually quite disturbing shows that not even Hilleman’s use of retarded children as lab rats gets more than a sentence of critical scrutiny. I must admit, I was surprised that when working on vaccines, many scientists went to asylums where retarded children were cared for to see how their drugs worked prior to giving it to other members of the human population. The unethical practice is immediately explained as just yet another humanitarian move on the part of Hilleman – many of the children in these institutions were abused, there was rampant over-crowding, which directly helped to spread the various diseases; therefore, Hilleman presented what he had done through in the most uncompromising terms: “My vaccine gave all of these children the chance to avoid the harm of that disease. Why should retarded children be denied that chance” (Offit 25)? Seemingly to counter the ethical problem presented, Offit does explain that Hilleman and others also used their own children to test the vaccines, which is my opinion makes the research even more problematic, despite the benefits that I and all others who have received as a result of their invention.

Rather than always attempting to show how Hilleman had only the greatest intentions in every act he did, it would seem more appropriate to explain that he was a man of his time: brilliant but often myopic and clouded as a result of his own perspective, when it came to his scientific desires and his past exploits. These oversights are explained somewhat via the prologue where Offit tells that prior to Hilleman’s death, he had a chance to sit down and speak with the gifted virologist and the book is a result of those conversations. I must admit, after reflecting on that statement, it is indeed clear that Vaccinated, in many places, reads more like a companion to an oral history transcript than an objective biography. A few more revisions could solve this problem.

Nonetheless, it is a good read. The historical and medical value of Vaccinated is without question – yes, any drug has side-effects, but the possibility of abandoning vaccines altogether is, as we see in the details of what life was like for many without them, terrifying and dangerous to everyone (it is interesting to note that when some parents and guardians stop vaccinating their children, we all become more susceptible to viruses again – it is called a reduction in the “herd immunity” which is actually strengthened when a majority of the population is resistant – they act as a barrier, stopping the disease from attacking even the most vulnerable). Hilleman’s contributions to medicine are obviously unquestionable, and it is a necessary biography of someone who did so much to help maintain the general health, in the same way that we, as educated individuals, must know the names of Jonas Salk, Edward Jenner, and Louis Pasteur; however, the text’s true worthiness is its response to the many people’s problematic denials of vaccines’ usefulness and their necessity in keeping everyone healthy – that above all else is what I see as Offit’s crowning achievement in writing this book.

Reviewed for the Parents Blogger's Network, by my husband:
Frank C. Manista, Ph.D.
Michigan State University

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Garage Sale America. Or Why This Is Still My Kind of Country

Readers of my personal blog will know that at present I am doing much handwringing over Big Life Decisions of the Leaving America for Britain variety. Nonetheless, I can't read a delicious book like Bruce Littlefield's Garage Sale America and not feel like it is a testament to so much that I would miss once we are gone. Car Boot sales, the slightly glum British equivalent of the Garage Sale, involve early wet mornings surrounded by lots of other families who have lugged their "knick knacks" to a school playing field. I should know, as I seem to remember sitting in front of our open trunk and watching my brother's eyes glisten as his various Star Wars figures get carted off.

Actually, it was not that bad, and there is nothing quite like an open air Junk/Antique Market in England, but there is something about a Saturday morning Garage Saling in the midwest that is infinitely more fun and quintessentially American, and it's this quality that Littlefield conveys so well in his gorgeously illustrated book.

Part primer for erstwhile garage-salers and shoppers, part cultural analysis of an intriguing popular phenomenon, Garage Sale America taps into why people like me (and the neighbors I drag out of bed on a Friday morning to ride shotgun) get all of a twitter about a decent garage sale. For I, my friends, am an "anthropological warrior," and on Saturday mornings May thru September, you can quite often hear me roar.

"..each Saturday morning around the country... anthropological voyeuristic warriors pour themselves thermoses of coffee, grab their maps, circled newspapers, and fistfuls of dollars, and set out for an archeaological dig through the soils of popular culture. "

Most definitely. What he said.

I also enjoy a couple of donuts. You know. For stamina.

Garage Sale America is cheeky, informative, and insightful. It taps into what it is about wading through other people's junk that makes garage-salers tick. For me it's about finding a bargain, and being able to brag unattractively over how I managed to score a nearly new child backpack carrier for 5 bucks, and the same item would cost $85 dollars retail.

It's about wading through boxes of childrens books and know that this slightly tarnished version of Franklin Rides a Bike or Good Night Moon will go to a new home. (I am that way about books, you see--I can't abide seeing them discarded).

It's about ransacking through crates of plate silverware and polishing up that tarnished serving spoon at home, and feeling the sense that I have discovered the quintessential diamond in the rough...

Boxes of old postcards. Faded kodak images of The Tower of London, circa 1969, posted by Barb and Vern as they took their long-anticipated European vacation years ago "England is a ball!" Vogue Knitting Patterns from the 70s; Gardening Magazines from the 20s. Lush.

OK. Garage Saling brings out the romantic in me. And Littlefield more than gets it. As he says, the "experience of finding just the right thing for just the right price is emotionally rewarding, economically clever, and environmentally sound." It's about stories, it's about nostalgia, it's about treasuring and reinventing the past.

It's also about getting What to Expect When you Are Expecting for one dollar. (Because, who wants to pay full retail for that?)

Garage Sale America is extremely readable. Fun to dip into while your kids happily play with the Thomas Trains or Bouncing Tigger that you scored for only a couple of bucks from the "good" neighborhood across town... I would certainly recommend the book to any Garage Sale addict, not only because it provides tips and design suggestions for salvaged materials, but because you might just recognize yourself in the stories Littlefield recounts, and enjoy a small grin to yourself. Next thing you know, you'll be gripped by a renewed sense of vigor, and start obsessively scanning the paper for sales before hotfooting it to the estate sale across town with "antique glass, books, and dinnerware... No Early Birds..."

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Light Iris. A Google for New Moms?

Last night I was trolling the internet for information on Rota virus symptoms, and trying to determine if I should be dashing to the ER or riding the tide as my six-month old entered the fifth day of Rota virus symptoms. (thankfully, as I write this, he is now showing real signs of improvement. phew…).

Light Iris is exactly the search engine for parents like me. Touted as “only the best of Google for new Moms,” the site’s creators certainly set up high expectations for users. But as a parent and as a web usability expert, I can say without reservation that Light Iris is an excellent tool for those new moms (and Dads) it attempts to serve.

Do a straight Google search for “Rotavirus” and “listless” (yes. I was a little panicked) and you immediately receive a dizzying array of results. First off the bat is a document by the Center for Disease Control, on some levels useful—presenting some basic facts about the virus and its symptoms--though likely to scare the bejeezus out of you with statistics on infant mortality, and also focused on vaccine development. Interesting, but not what I was looking for.

What I was looking for was help, reassurance, and information specific to my personal situation as a parent of an ailing child.

At Light Iris, a similar search for “Rotavirus” information immediately took me to a first tier of reliable sources for parents in my predicament—sites that, as a more seasoned parent I am now very familiar with, but as a new parent had little knowledge of:,,, and information from the FDA. Of course, this is information I could have found through Google, though I would have spent considerably more time digging and sifting through the results before landing on what I was looking for.

More to the point, Light Iris returns effective results for less clear-cut searches, and this is where the site’s real strength begins to come into play. As a blogger, I often play the “check my search referrals” game. It’s normally cause for a bit of a giggle, but among the pursuit for “Ostrich Sleep Habits” (to mention one of the cleaner requests) there are other searches that speak of other stories, of other women, like me, who are not only in need of information, but also of reassurance and connection. Several of my posts deal with my struggles with breastfeeding and self image, my ambivalence towards to Dr. Sears, our familial trials with C.I.O., and it is these posts which repeatedly attract readers who find me through a google search, and who have paged through screen after screen of results before landing on one of my pieces.

As Mad Hatter Mommy put it so perfectly a few months ago, “the parenting blogosphere is big. It’s messy. It’s unwieldy.” On her own post over breastfeeding, she writes:

"I have often said that if I could save one woman even one of the tears I shed over breastfeeding then the absolute hell that I went through would be worth it. I don't know if the women who find my post find help. I hope they find solace. What I hope most of all, though, is that they find more relevant search results than Google is likely giving them. I know how much Google search hits lack relevance in this instance because I was that desperate, searching mom just two short years ago."

When we write posts about our experiences with parenting—mess and all—we provide something that the standard parenting sites to not. Light Iris, for understandable reasons, directs users first to those standard sites—and even in this, it is far superior to Google as a search tool for parents. But also among the results, users can begin to locate the voices of bloggers who might provide that solace that Mad so eloquently describes.

Don’t get me wrong, Light Iris is *not* able to do the deep mining of the parenting blogosphere that I (and Mad, among others) would like to see eventually, but I see clues that its creators are working towards that end. Right now quite a few blogs are showing up via the regular search, but the site’s blog-specific search produces very thin results. But this can change as content developers like many of us take the steps to submit our sites, as invited. (And this overall omission is partly down to us bloggers and our resistance to tagging, and our constant use of colloquialisms. For instance, my breastfeeding posts rarely use the “proper” terminology—instead they are littered with references to The Lactator, boobs and tits. I am not about to change that (thank you) but I could at least employ a few more standardized metatags so some poor soul with nipple thrush can feel someone shares her pain).

Before I conclude, I do have a few comments on the design of the site. I’ll admit, when I first entered the site’s URL, I was put off by a number of design elements, first and foremost a flash-animated splash page with no “Skip” function. (Tut Tut). While I understand that the splash works to “brand” the product, I do know that usability studies show that splash pages annoy the crap out of most users—including this one--especially if you are trying to do something simple and fast. Light Iris is not selling me an “experience” or “life choice,” so I strongly recommend skipping the flash splash.

I have to also say that apart from the flash, I was initially put off by the liberal use of pink (and hard to read) font, and the soft, fuzzy, slightly hallmarky and inspirational feel it emanates. Star bursts for “New Moms. Unique Needs” and such. A little too cutesy and even preteen for my tastes, but certainly not annoying enough to stop me from using the site.

On the other hand, I appreciated that the interface, a la Google, is stripped down and uncluttered. This was Google’s strength, after all, years back when the standard search interface was crammed with text and browse functions (remember Lycos and Excite?). Light Iris retains the Google feel, but makes the site different enough conceptually to reassure users that this is something new.

I am extremely impressed with what Light Iris accomplishes, and realize—as a metadata expert--that the “behind the scenes” work going into this tool is no mean feat. (And I’d really like to know how they do it!) Since I started using Light Iris a week ago, I have been surprised how often I have already used it for my personal needs. Overall, it is an excellent tool, worthy of much attention and investment on the part of people like us who want to provide other voices and perspectives on the experience of parenting.

This review was part of a Parent Blogger's Network campaign. Interested in going to BlogHer but wondering how to afford the registration? Check out the PBN's Blog Blast Contest, enter, and they, along with Light Iris, might just pick up that tab for you.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Will someone please get me ready for Kindergarten?!

Our four-year old will be starting kindergarten this Fall. That statement alone blows my mind, along with the terrifying notion that he'll be stepping onto that yellow bus and waving bye-bye all by himself (we plan to stalk that bus for at least two years...just to be safe...) He hardly seems out of diapers, and suddenly we are earnestly making our way to various kindergarten roundups and “presenting” our son to prospective new teachers, who gently question and interact with him to "gauge his readiness" (whatever that means). Let’s Get Ready for Kindergarten is a great tool for any parent in our position, who want to understand what "kindergarten readiness" might actually mean in concrete terms. In one simple book, parents and teachers are provided with a quick and usable reference to everything their children will need to know for that first year.

As earnest academics, my husband and I take a deep and active interest in our son’s education. We are lucky enough to be able to send him to a local daycare center that has an excellent educational program, where an age-appropriate curriculum, especially for preschoolers, is carefully and expertly put into practice. In terms of ensuring that our child is not "left behind," we are certainly ahead of the game, and we are indebted to his teachers who gently point us to what he should be grasping at this age and in kindergarten.

But it’s in this department that I definitely feel like a novice. What should my son be able to accomplish at this age? Writing his name? Counting to ten, twenty, one hundred? Zipping up his jacket? Telling a story? Though we have a good idea of these issues, Let’s Get Ready for Kindergarten is a great tool for parents who want a more concrete sense of what will be in store for a child in that first year, and how you can help them get there. We have been able to use the book to assess where he is already adept, and where we might need to focus a little more energy.

Let’s Get Ready is set up like a workbook, with 32 dry erase pages. It is durable, nicely illustrated, and easy to follow. A slim and portable volume, it covers a broad range of skills (recognition of letter/words, numbers, shapes, colors, monetary units; counting skills, understanding of simple narrative structure, positional words, etc). This is not a workbook where your child will focus on one skill in depth, and at first I was mildly put off by the apparently simplistic nature of how each skill was dealt with (about one page for each). To me the scope seemed too broad to be dealt with in such a slim volume. Where were the activities? The busy work? The dot-to-dots?!

But, as I began to use the book with our son, I realized that it is a book you can “dip into” and despite its apparent simplicity, it contains great “teaching moment” tips and focused, incremental activities, even while it presents material in an engaging and attractive way for kids.

In the last month, my son has become quite attached to our copy (“let’s read the kindergarten book, momma!”) and we frequently pop it open after mealtime or when he is sitting and having a snack (another reason I am glad for wipeable pages). We have been able to confirm what we already knew—that he was adept at the alphabet, could recognize letters out of order, and needed to work on his writing skills. But we’ve also learned target areas where we can focus our energies—recognizing that stories have a beginning, middle, and end; being able to count in tens, that drawing and writing skills are critically intertwined.

For my son, Let’s Get Ready is a fun little book he can play with on his own or with mommy or daddy. It's a toy. For us, it’s a useful metric or reference guide to help us understand where our son is at, and where we need to be headed. If you are headed for Kindergarten in the next year or two, then you need to get a copy! (or you can win one, if you leave a comment as to why you'd like the book over at The Parent Blogger's Network).

Monday, March 19, 2007

Insomnia Not Required (Review of Breus's Good Night

There's a bitter irony to the fact that as I wrote this post (a particularly desperate rant about baby-induced sleep-deprivation) there nestled gently on my nightstand was this book, Good Night: The Sleep Doctor's Four Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health. Ever since my husband and I experienced at least five months of extreme sleep deprivation with the arrival of our firstborn, we became Sleep Zealots; positively anal about night-time routines, nap schedules, circadian rhythms. In all other areas we pride ourselves on being pretty flexible parents, but sleep is where we do not tend to compromise--this is borne of those five months in which both of us became creatures unrecognizable (and frankly not very nice) to one another.

I am not an insomniac. But even so, I can recommend Good Night to anyone who is interested in enhancing their night's sleep and particularly those like me who are interested in what studies are beginning to demonstrate about the role of sleep in our lives. This last few weeks as my four month old has been resisting sleep at certain times of the night, the book has strengthened my resolve to instill healthy sleep habits at a tender age.

I should state that this is not a book for parents of children with sleep problems, and Breus wryly admits that parents of newborns come to terms with sleep deprivation for the duration. However for those of us who have been fixating on our kid's sleeping routines and structures, this book forces us to switch that gaze and take a long hard look at ourselves.

Yes, we all know that a night with little to no sleep can make you feel like the Living Dead the next day, but Breus makes a convincing case for the link between sleep and overall quality of life and health. A large proportion of us are experiencing sleep problems such as frequent night waking or stress-induced insomnia, but only a "quarter of us admit that sleep problems have some impact on our daily lives" and only "a handful of us ever takes any steps to improve our sleep." We are living in a culture where decent sleep is increasingly perceived as a luxury as opposed to a vital necessity, and it's this perception that Breus attempts to take on.

To help individuals begin to pay back their "sleep debt" he provides a series of tools for self-evaluation, identifies the major "sleep thieves" (stress and anxiety, caffeine, parenting styles, bed partners, hormonal fluctuations, and business travel) and presents a practical program for sleep-friendly lifestyle. Many of the tips and tricks in those programs are helpful even to a non-insomniac parent who is waking for twice nightly feedings and has trouble falling back to sleep after. For instance the importance of beginning the sleep routine before exhaustion sets in; the optimal way to set up your bedroom for a conducive soporific atmosphere; the use of a "worry journal" for when your brain is spinning out of control; and a whole slew of tricks that mean you'll never have to count sheep again. All very simple ideas but effective to various degrees.

Good Night makes some pretty lofty claims--paying back the "sleep debt" will lift depression, enhance productivity, strengthen our relationships, and even lead to a better sex life. I am naturally cynical about these types of sweeping claims--which appear to be the general marketing ploy behind most self-help guides these days. But Breus does make a strong case for sleep's positive affects in these areas, and particularly in the claim I am most inclined take with a pinch of salt: Sleep makes us thinner.

A whole chapter is devoted on how we can "Snooze to Lose," and more to the point, how the sleep debt might be accruing at our waistlines. Breus presents research and findings about the relation of hormonal fluctuations to sleep rhythms too detailed to recount here, but some of the information he presented was a revelation to me. For instance, that "lack of sleep increases cortisol, resulting in your body storing fat, burning muscle--and making you hungry by increasing your appetite!" Now, I might be clinging on to this fact as I battle to lose weight in my own very sleep deprived and postpartum state, but cortisol aside, Breus presents a myriad of other endocrinological details that support the claim, and let me say it's not just because we're heading towards the fridge in the wee hours.

If you or someone you know battles with sleep loss, I can certainly recommend this book. Breus's style is engaging, personable and non-judgemental, his discussion punctuated with interesting case studies from his clinical work. I am not promising that the book will have you enjoying your eight+ hours a night in four weeks, but it will help you evaluate the role of sleep in your life and likely help you towards that goal of a better-rested "I am invincible" you.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

No need to worry about junior knocking back the Purell

That's if you were worried about Junior knocking back the Purell, which I'm not. (But check back when he's 15, and I might be singing a different tune).

Cleanwell Sanitizer is not alcohol based, and this is most definitely a plus, but not because the Today Show has got me all in a panic over substance abuse. No. I live in Michigan. For those of you below mid-Ohio, do you have any clue how cold and specifically how dry it gets here 4-5 months out of the year? Believe me, when you have hands so dry and cracked that they catch on things, then the last thing you want to be putting on them is alcohol. That nice "cooling" and "I feel all clean and sterile" feeling we might relish in the warmer months is now replaced by searing pain and even drier, scratchier knuckles than before (and folks. that's just not sexy).

Cleanwell, by comparison, is a kinder, gentler, and infinitely more pleasant smelling product that the standard variety. It even softens--just a little bit. And I'm not even washing my dishes with it. It is made with natural products--And yes, I checked. When they say natural it does not seem to be a stretch of the imagination, as it is with so many other "natural" products out there today--the active ingredient is Thyme Oil (lovely!) and other ingredients include citrus essence (refreshing!) aloe vera (soothing!) and oats (tasty!) (ok. don't be put off by the oats--this product is definitely lump free and not delicious. Not toxic, but definitely Not Delicious).

Jokes aside, the fact this product is not stingingly astringent also means I don't have to hesitate when I give my 4 year old a quick squirt on his own chapped little hands, and this I appreciate. It comes in a compact little spray bottle, and so far has not leaked in my purse, unlike those boozy varieties. This I also appreciate.

But does it work? i.e. are those germs killed? This, my friends, I cannot tell you. Have we been snot, cold, cough, bug free household for the last few weeks since we've had it? Definitely not. But when a neighbor brings a drippy nosed kid over, I will definitely crack open the Cleanwell just to attempt a preemptive strike. We can only dream, right? I mean, it's a hand sanitizer, not a flippin' miracle cure.

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