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“Flu shot required to attend school�?

Those may be words that are a reality in the future. Studies have shown that the leading cause of the spread of the influenza virus is school children. Not surprisingly either. Unlike office setting were workers have their own cubes, work stations or offices, school children tend to use more shared material and have closer physical boundaries. They then act as Petri dishes for the virus. (Anyone that has a child in daycare or school can attest to that). Most people can fight off the virus, with the elderly and very young being the most vulnerable but there is still around 39,000 deaths a year. The more the virus is spread around society, the more likely that it could mutate to a more aggressive strain and cause a pandemic (we are technically overdue for a pandemic, which may be the result of preventative measure in our healthcare system). The best way to reduce the spread of the flu is to vaccinate as many as possible so that the virus does not have the opportunity to spread. Thus it is a public health benefit to increase vaccinations. Since the influenza virus is a fast “evolving? organism (that is why you need a flu shot every year) it is a matter of public health to limit its transmission.

So if mandatory flu vaccinations become the norm there could be policy challenges, for example the possible increased cost initially of the vaccine (but less emergency room visits) and the challenge of underinsured children (despite free vaccination). There are certain shots that are already mandated by the government for school children but this would be an increase in regulation. There is also very few producers of the vaccination, and we need to consider how to handle a disruption in the supply chain.

Do you think it would it would be beneficial to the society at large to mandate flue vaccinations or is it an unnecessary precaution?

*Statistics from Boynton Health Services

Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
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