I teach preschool and elementary school. If you have ever worked with small children, you know these places are germ factories! The school year seems made up of one cold or flu virus after another, no matter how many times you wash your hands.
The state of New Jersey has decided to combat the problem by mandating flu vaccines for children in preschool and licensed child-care centers, but is this a good idea?
I have never had a flu vaccine, and neither have my children. In fact, I question the effectiveness and safety of the flu shot, even though thimersol is not used in toddler flu vaccines. As a parent, I have chosen an alternative vaccine schedule and opted out of most of them, so such state mandates upset me as I feel they infringe on my personal choice as a parent. Some may argue that personal choices do not usurp public health, but parents in New Jersey have voiced intense opposition. Louise Habakus, an organizer of a rally protesting the flu shot requirement, explained, “This is not an anti-vaccine rally — it’s a freedom of choice rally. This one-size-fits-all approach is really very anti-American.”
New Jersey is the first state to require such a flu shot mandate; however, it appears parents would still be able to opt out as a “conscientious exemption”.
In my experience as both an educator and a parent in a state that does allow for conscientious exemptions to vaccines, parents are often not given this information. They are told that the schools have vaccine requirements, but alternatives are not discussed. Parents are not informed of their options in an effort to maintain public health. Instead of omitting this information, schools should educate parents as to the public health benefits of vaccinations while respecting their right to make informed decisions for their families.
Image: woodleywonderworks on Flickr under a Creative Commons License
Lunchbox Obsessed says
I think flu vaccines are a great idea, and our family makes a point of getting one each year. However, I do not think they should be required–it should definitely be a choice!
Jamie Ervin says
I think we are really getting out of hand with the number of vaccines required. Many strains of the flu and all cold viruses are not stopped by the flu vaccine, so what is the point. The vaccine may be important for high risk children and adults, but is not necessary for the average healthy person.
Two of my children received the vaccine this year… my 6 yo has celiac, asthma and numerous other allergies and our 16yo has a compromised immune system and Autoimmune TTP. Last winter our 6yo was treated for secondary pneumonia three times so I decided to allow the vaccine this year when our pediatrician recommended it. She has been healthier this fall so far. Time will tell if we have a better year than last and even if she is healthier it may have nothing to do with the vaccine.
My other children and the adults in our household did not get the vaccine.
Mandating a flu vaccine that MAY help with one strain of a virus is ridiculous. I felt the same about the Chicken Pox vaccine, we all survived the virus so why mass immunize everyone?
I’ve gone the traditional vaccine route with my children for numerous reasons, I delayed some of the vaccines until a safer age and weighed the pros and cons of each vaccine. Part of it was feeling like I would be riding on EVERYONE else vaccinating their children to keep mine healthy if I opted out of vaccines.
And I have a child who appears to be on the Autism spectrum, though the final verdict hasn’t arrived. Could this have something to do with her vaccines? I doubt it, but who knows.
I’m from NJ, and I had a conversation about this with a mom a few months ago. I said I was completely against it. Yes, the flu is inconvenient but you get over it. And she had a different perspective.
Her child ended up in the hospital because of the flu – it was very life threatening. He gets sick very easily. I’m not sure if he has a specific problem or not. This mom has her kids get the shot but because this one child gets sick so easily, it’s not a guarantee. If he’s around children who get the flu, he could end up with it even after having the shot.
She firmly believed that everyone should be vaccinated to protect children like hers.
I don’t necessarily agree with her. I had actually forgotten about the conversation until I just read this and I haven’t thought it through. My kids are past pre-school age.
However, it is another perspective to this issue and I thought I’d mention it. If my child had almost died, I might feel the same way she does.
No parent should be asked to inject their child with something that could be a potential risk to their health and thus no parent should feel obligated to protect other children or the population at large. I know I for one did not have kids to put their health second and the health of strangers kids first. We will never vaccinate our kids.
Crimson Wife says
I’ve heard that the push to have all kids receive the flu vaccine is actually an attempt to protect the elderly. Most flu deaths occur among the elderly but the vaccine is much less effective in that population. So the thinking is get kids vax (even though the disease is rarely serious in otherwise healthy ones) in order to reduce the chance of them spreading it to at-risk seniors.
I did choose to have my kids get flu shots this year because we’re expecting a new baby in January. But I think it should be an optional one, not required.
Jennifer Lance says
Crimson Wife, that is interesting. I have heard a lot of vaccines are required in children because it is an easier population to target. For example, MMR is given to protect pregnant women and their unborn children, not the kids themselves. Not sure how accurate this info is, but it is something I have read.
Crimson Wife, i understand you opinion, but i want you to know that even when kids rarely die from flu infection, they can get serious health complications, which can disable them lifelong. older people have very weakened immune system, thus they give up earlier, but children may have more power to win the disease. but we should not forget that children are still developing and a single infection can lead to major disorders, that can sometimes be worse than death.
New Jersey is the only state to mandate the flu vaccine for children…New Jersey is the headquarter state for pharmaceutical companies. See the coincidence. They don’t care about your child health needs or your rights, just the bottom line…MONEY!
Crimson Wife says
I just looked up the data, and roughly 1% of children who come down with the flu will experience complications requiring hospitalization. Of those, nearly half were considered “high-risk” because of other health issues. So that means that for kids who are not high-risk, 99.5% of them who come down with the flu will NOT have a serious case.
Concerned Mom says
Many people and doctors (think after doing much research) that a lot of these kids have skewed immune systems (either over or under active) because of vaccines. They are sickly and then they give their children more vaccines to “protect” them from a possible strain of flu for that year – affecting their immune system again. This is not always the best way to go – constantly bombarding the immune system of young childen instead of letting it work the way it supposed to. Or building it up with good nutrition, vitamins and probiotics – but that wouldnt make any money for the big companies promoting and lobbying for their drugs. Please do your own research before injecting your children.
b greg says
The flu vaccine still contains mercury. Most vaccines also contain aluminum. Using the numbers from “Addressing Parents’ Concerns: Do Vaccines Cause Allergic or Autoimmune Diseases? by Paul A. Offit, MD* and Charles J. Hackett, PhD” – The risk of asthma from one childhood vaccination is 1%. Since most children get more than one vaccination…. 15 vaccinations would give a 15% risk of getting asthma?
There are other problems with the vaccines. Food is often used in the culture medium and food oils used in the vaccine adjuvant. Trace amounts of food protein can remain in the vaccine. These ingredients do not have to appear on the vaccine package insert. (Protected trade secret)
If you read patents for culture mediums and vaccine adjuvants, you will find everything from powdered skim milk, eggs, beef, to peanut, soy, sesame, fish, and shellfish oils.
Since none of these ingredients must appear on the label, doctors have no idea that they may be injecting peanut oil into a peanut-allergic patient.
Most vaccine studies only study the effect of one vaccine and ignore the rest. It is kinda like sticking 14 nails in someone’s foot and only taking out one. Then saying that since the foot still hurts this nail didn’t cause a problem and is relatively safe to stick into people’s feet.