New Jersey Assemblymen Herb Conaway and Andrew Zwicker have introduced legislation that would mandate flu vaccination for all students enrolled in New Jersey schools. In response to Covid-19, assembly bill A4576 would require students to receive an annual flu vaccine in order to maintain enrollment at public and private K-12 schools, preschools, daycares, and colleges. 

The bill language states that a flu vaccine mandate will limit the possibility of flu and covid-19 co-infections, help to avoid the overburdening of hospitals, and will limit diagnostic confusion and errors. Considering state and national Covid-19 and seasonal influenza data, using Covid-19 as justification to mandate flu vaccination for all New Jersey students is not in the best interest of public health. 

According to NJ data, children are not at high risk for contracting or suffering severe complications from Covid-19. Furthermore, there is currently insufficient data suggesting that children are at significant risk of suffering both flu and covid-19 co-infections. To date, children aged 0-17 make up only 1% of Covid-19 hospitalizations. Diagnostic errors and faulty results are a reflection of inaccurate tests and testing, as well as a need for better diagnostic tools, especially for Covid-19. A blanket flu shot mandate for all NJ students as a response to Covid-19 is not practical and will not mitigate the need for an improved medical response to Covid-19 and an overall improvement in our healthcare systems.

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Additionally, flu vaccine efficacy is unstable, sometimes being as little as 10-15% effective. It is also most likely to be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), which is a federally run vaccine injury reporting system. According to the National Vaccine Information Center, "As of June 30, 2020, there have been more than 178,684 reports of influenza vaccine reactions, hospitalizations, injuries and deaths following influenza vaccinations made to the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS)..." (https://www.nvic.org/vaccines-and-diseases/Influenza/vaccine-injury.aspx). Considering the flu vaccines wavering efficacy, and its risk of adverse reactions, this type of vaccine should not be mandated.

Public health is not one size fits all. The people of our state deserve individualized care.  Mandating personal medical interventions, especially unreliable interventions that can cause harm, is governmental overreach and will not build confidence in our government or the pharmaceutical industry. 

  1. New Jersey Legislature. (2020, August 25). Assembly No. 4576, State of New Jersey, 219th Legislature. Retrieved September 1, 2020 from https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2020/Bills/A5000/4576_I1.HTM

  1. Infogram (2020, August 25). Demographics of COVID-19 cases. NJ Department of Health. Retrieved August 31, 2020 from https://infogram.com/tuesday-demographics-1hxr4zqjmmn54yo

  1. Infogram (2020, August 25). Demographics of COVID-19 cases. NJ Department of Health. Retrieved August 31, 2020 from https://infogram.com/tuesday-demographics-1hxr4zqjmmn54yo

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Circa 2004-2018). Past seasons vaccine effectiveness. Retrieved on September 1, 2020 from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/vaccines-work/past-seasons-estimates.html

  1. National Vaccine Information Center. (2020, June 30). Can influenza vaccine cause injury and death? Retrieved on September 1, 2020 from https://www.nvic.org/vaccines-and-diseases/Influenza/vaccine-injury.aspx