A new bill introduced last week could make the flu shot mandatory for all kids returning to school for in-person instruction in New Jersey.

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As experts say there may be a second wave of COVID at the same time we’re hit with flu season, some lawmakers want to see to it that all students get the flu shot if they plan to attend school.

Democratic Assemblymen Herb Conaway, D-Burlington and Andrew Zwicker, D-Middlesex, introduced a bill last week that would make the influenza shot a requirement for enrollment at public and private K-12 schools, preschools, childcare centers and institutions of higher education.

Lawmakers say it may be difficult to determine whether an outbreak of illness in schools and colleges is due to COVID-19 or influenza. Getting students, staff and faculty immunized for influenza would help alleviate this problem and would enable institutions to more easily identify and stop the spread of coronavirus.

“The vaccination of children and students for influenza will make it easier for K-12 schools, preschools, child care centers, and institutions of higher education to identify enrolled students and children who may be showing signs of COVID-19 infection, thereby enabling these institutions to more promptly distinguish whether a COVID-19 or influenza outbreak is occurring at the institution,” says the bill.

Lawmakers want to pass the (A4576) before Oct. 1 so people will have time to build immunity before the flu season kicks into high gear.

Currently, the flu shot is not required for New Jersey students to attend elementary school, high school or college. The state does require children who attend daycare and preschool to get the flu shot.

Some anti-vaxxers are already up in arms about the bill.

The New Jersey Coalition for Vaccination Choice posted a blog about the proposed bill on its website.

“We need to politely and respectfully let the Assembly Speaker and Senate President know that we are not OK with this,” reads the post.

The website cites talking points including “the flu shot is notoriously ineffective (can be as low as 10-15 percent)” and that “social distancing, wearing masks, and other corona protocols will lessen flu virus transmission.  Flu statistics from the southern hemisphere, which is starting to emerge from winter corroborate a very mild flu season.”

The AAP recommends annual seasonal influenza immunization for all people 6 months and older, including all children and adolescents.

 

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