Home > In the News, Preventable Diseases, Science & Research, Seasonal Flu > Flu Vaccine Mandates Work to Boost Immunization Rates

Flu Vaccine Mandates Work to Boost Immunization Rates

March 26, 2014

There is plenty of evidence that demonstrates the value of vaccines - from reducing hospitalizations and deaths to saving money.  And it’s frightening to imagine what would happen if we stopped vaccinating.

Vaccine_benefit-cost_ratio_-_3Yet, we are often reluctant to mandate vaccines. Instead, we prefer that people decide for themselves how best to ensure their good health. But we can’t ignore the data that proves vaccine mandates are an effective tool in boosting immunization rates.

Take for instance a mandate created in September 2010, in which Connecticut became the second state in the U.S. that requires children, age six months to six years, to receive an annual influenza vaccine in order to attend a state-licensed childcare program. According to a study conducted at the Yale School of Public Heath, Connecticut’s vaccination rate for children aged six months to six years increased significantly after the mandate, spiking from 67.8% during the 2009–2010 influenza season to 84.1% during the 2012–2013 flu season.   And better yet, the number of children hospitalized for the flu plummeted.  In fact, compared to nine other states without mandates, Connecticut saw the largest percentage decrease in the influenza-associated hospitalization rate among children aged four years and younger.

MNchildrens_infographic_fluAnd there have been indirect societal benefits as well.  James Hadler, lead study author and clinical professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Medicine explains that hospitalization rates for the entire community likely decreased as well. He goes on to say that although the mandate applied only to young children, other studies have demonstrated that protecting a subset of the population decreases circulation of the virus more generally. Which translates to this simple concept: less disease circulating means vaccination is impacting a larger population than can even include those who haven’t been vaccinated.

While vaccine mandates of any kind are bound to face public resistance, it’s important to acknowledge the benefits of the action that has been taken.

“Our study demonstrated the feasibility [of making] day care centers safer,” Hadler said. “We hope that other states will consider that [mandated vaccinations for day-care attending children] is something that can and should be done. Connecticut and New Jersey have broken the ice on this issue and hopefully others will follow.”

Coverage of this report in the Yale Daily News explained that while some people may be concerned that an annual vaccine mandate could be a financial burden to the uninsured, the CDC’s Vaccines for Children program can cover the cost of immunizations for those in need.  Additionally, a CDC report from March of last year  indicated that out of the 105 pediatric deaths that occurred in the 2012-2013 season, 90% had not been vaccinated.

If mandating influenza vaccines for one of our most vulnerable populations can save lives and prevent hospitalizations than it’s obvious to see why Connecticut and New Jersey have taken these important steps to ensure high vaccination rates.  And as the infographic above demonstrates, public health departments all across the country (as seen in this image from MN) are interested in boosting influenza immunization rates and preventing dangerous flu infections among the youngest population.  But since the mandate currently only applies to state-licensed childcare programs in two states, we are curious to hear from you.

If you were choosing to send your child to a state-licensed child care in your state, would you consider influenza vaccine mandates like those in CT and NJ to be a welcomed change or an unwarranted imposition?

 

  1. Narad
    March 26, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    [Hadler] goes on to say that although the mandate applied only to young children, other studies have demonstrated that protecting a subset of the population decreases circulation of the virus more generally.

    This is well illustrated for influenza by Japan, where immunizing schoolchildren generated herd protection for the elderly.

  2. Lawrence
    March 26, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    My son’s elementary school had a Flu Vaccine clinic in the Fall – it was so successful that they expanded the clinic’s capacity at least three times.

  3. Mercuriyisbad
    March 27, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Mandatory vaccinations violate the 1st, 4th, 5th, and 14th ammendments. As well as the civil rights act and basic medical ethics (patient autonomy). If you want mandatory vaccinations move to North Korea.

  4. Lawrence
    March 27, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    I’m really not sure how those Amendments apply in this case – or the Civil Rights Act for that matter…..perhaps you should be a little clearer, as opposed to just regurgitating a bunch of stuff from anti-vaccine websites.

    For educational institutions, the responsibility to protect the public health is very much in line with requiring vaccinations – especially to protect those who are unable to receive vaccines for legitimate medical reasons.

  5. Narad
    March 27, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Mercuriyisbad :
    Mandatory vaccinations violate the 1st, 4th, 5th, and 14th ammendments.

    The Supreme Court would beg to differ.

  6. Mercuriyisbad
    March 27, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    You DO NOT NEED vaccinations to attend school. most states will recognize religious and philosophical exemptions as protected under the civil rights act….and bill of rights.

    I will never ever take the flu shot…..and I work in healthcare.

  7. Mercuriyisbad
    March 27, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    Vaccine fascists will never forcibly inject me or my children.

  8. Lawrence
    March 27, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    You don’t need them, but you then also accept the limitations that will be put on those particular students – including sending them home for several weeks at a time, should there be an outbreak at school – I’m sure parents would have no problem, in today’s world, taking that time off from work (probably unpaid).

    If you won’t take the shot, you should probably go with FluMist – just as effective and doesn’t use a preservative….otherwise, you are doing your co-workers a huge disservice (along with any patients you might encounter – not yours of course, because you sure aren’t a doctor).

  9. Lawrence
    March 27, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Oh, see, that’s your problem….you’re certifiably insane. Of course, certainly explains your completely irrational stance and opinions that fly in the face of all available science.

    If you don’t like public health policies, stay out of public…..

  10. Mercuriyisbad
    March 27, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    Please tell me who is insane.

    Chances of getting the flu in my state .16%
    Chances of death by flu in my state .000069%
    Chance of being struck by lightning (national stats) .0001%

    I hope you tremble in fear every time it rains you nut job

  11. Lawrence
    March 27, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    LOL – interesting that you would be so happy to be a disease vector…again, points to the instability in your thought process.

  12. Narad
    March 27, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Mercuriyisbad :
    You DO NOT NEED vaccinations to attend school. most states will recognize religious and philosophical exemptions as protected under the civil rights act….and bill of rights.

    You’re really not very good at this. West Virginia and Mississippi plainly demonstrate that federal law does not guarantee anybody a religious exemption. The notion that it would somehow guarantee philosophical exemptions is laughable.

  13. novalox
    March 27, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    @mercuryisbad

    [citation needed] for your statements, since your “information” flies in the face of scientific information.

  14. lilady
    March 29, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    (Ignoring the thread-derailing “Mercury”)

    Back on topic now.

    “If you were choosing to send your child to a state-licensed child care in your state, would you consider influenza vaccine mandates like those in CT and NJ to be a welcomed change or an unwarranted imposition?”

    IMO, influenza vaccine mandates for attendance in State-licensed child care facilities is a welcomed change.

  15. JGC56
    April 1, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    “I will never ever take the flu shot…..and I work in healthcare.”

    How do you justify deliberately placing your clients at increased risk of infection, mercury?

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