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Flu Shots for all New Jersey Kids Would be Required in School and Daycare Under New Bill

In almost all parts of the United Stated (and worldwide) the rituals of September are disrupted, and a sense of foreboding remains about a possible second wave. In March and April, as ambulances passed through neighborhoods while hospitals were being full with covid patients,  summer seemed like a distant fantasy. Finally, after a few months, The coronavirus infections dropped, the curve flattened, and friends and families reunited open doors.

However, throughout the cities, a deep and intense anxiety remained over what might lie ahead, as summer gave way to autumn and September was getting closer each day.

A month of September, always representing both ending of holidays and summer, but at the same time beginning of autumn and a new school year, seems this year almost impossibly fraught, as people still have fear of a second wave arriving after the schools and universities reopen.

Therefore, with experts predicting a resurgence of the coronavirus coinciding with the flu season this autumn, state lawmakers want to mandate that all students — from grade school to college — get the flu vaccine.

Democratic Assemblymen Herb Conaway, D-Burlington and Andrew Zwicker, D-Middlesex, introduced legislation last week. This legislation would make the influenza shot a requirement for admission at public and private schools, preschools, as well as colleges and universities.

Herb Conaway, a physician stated that the goal was to pass the bill, (A4576) before October 1, “so people can build immunity in their systems in advance of flu season.” Vaccinating students will most definitely significantly reduce the number of people who would be experiencing severe flu symptoms, or even worse – a severe combination of flu and COVID-19 symptoms.

A flu vaccine

A flu vaccine is not among the required vaccines to attend elementary, high school or college in the state, therefore, New Jersey already requires children who attend day care and preschool to get the flu vaccine.

However, Sue Collins, co-founder of the New Jersey Coalition for Vaccination Choice, said she would testify against any bill mandating the flu vaccine. She further added that the flu vaccine is “notoriously ineffective.” She also added that at a moment when people were respecting social distancing, washing their hands more and wearing masks in public, these Covid-19 precautions would lessen the flu virus, as well as other virus transmissions. Collins continued that influenza vaccinations were the most likely to be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System as flu vaccine can be highly reactive and it is not a vaccine that should be mandated, she concluded.

The effectiveness of the flu vaccine in the 2019-20 season ranged from 38% to 44%, depending on a person’s age and in the prior decade, overall effectiveness ranged from 60% (in 2010-11) to 29% (in 2014-15).

The Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System is a federal database collecting unconfirmed reports of adverse reactions from medical providers, vaccine makers and the public. The National Vaccine Injury Program, a program which compensates people harmed by vaccines, paid a total of 3,624 vaccine-injured people out of the 1.67 billion doses of the vaccine distributed from 2006 to 2018.

The proposal will undoubtedly stir a debate about parents’ rights versus public health that faded with the pandemic’s arrival.

In December and January, state legislators tried to pass a legislation that would repeal a law allowing parents to cite religious beliefs as a reason to bypass required, but they were not successful.

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