The Flu-Shot Dilemma

3 March 2019

You all remember getting shots at some point. When we were little, they were the scariest part of a doctor’s visit. However, getting a shot would be much less scary than the actual disease. Inoculations are an important part of our lives. They keep not only us, but the people around us healthy. If shots such as smallpox and polio are required for public schoolchildren, the common flu should be too. Children should be required to update their flu shot every year when attending school.

Around 100 normal, healthy children die from influenza every year. (CDC) The sad part is that most of these deaths were unnecessary. If these children had received a vaccine, many lives would have been saved. Each shot costs around $20. For this amount of money, a child could have reached adulthood. If schools required updated flu shots, the student body will be immune on the whole. Of course someone will catch the flu, but they will have a less severe case, and those with weak immune systems won’t be at risk. When small children are dying, we know that this is a serious issue. The flu may seem like a very common ailment, but for infants and babies, catching influenza is severe. What happens to younger brothers and sisters? If an unvaccinated child catches the flu and brings it to school, a vaccinated child may bring it home without having the symptoms himself. His younger sister isn’t old enough for the seasonal flu shot so when she catches it, her fragile immune system is unprepared. This is very preventable. Update your flu every year; not just for yourself, but for those you may never meet.

If you were a parent, you would obviously care if your child was sick. During the winter, many children stay home from school because of cold and flu symptoms. If you want your child to stay healthy it takes more than one shot. At school not everyone gets a flu shot, therefore putting even vaccinated kids at risk. To guarantee a sterile learning environment, every single student needs a shot. The only conceivable way to avoid the vomiting, sneezing and fevers is to vaccinate the school. If the child’s parents can’t afford medical care, the school could also distribute a cheaper option. Clearly it should be mandatory that the staff and students be immunized. Others may argue that shots go against some family’s religious or moral beliefs, or maybe the parents believe that shots are linked to more serious mental problems. This is an unreasonable paranoia. These unfortunate side affects only occur in a small percentage of vaccinated children and are often due to a pre-existing condition. When parents read that a child developed autism because of a flu shot, they jump to conclusions, many times without facts. There are some groups of children who shouldn’t get vaccinated, such as kids with an allergy to chicken eggs, and some parents may have need to be concerned. Nevertheless, one small group shouldn’t be able to sacrifice the well being of the whole. Those particular families can choose a private school if a simple flu shot is that big of an issue. Everyone gets sick. Some years one in every five people get the flu. (WebMD) It is predicted that 200,000 individuals suffer from influenza complications and 36,000 people die. These numbers are outrageous considering flu shots are so accessible. With the recent H1N1 pandemic, school age children are even more at risk. It is said that 1 in 13 childhood swine flu cases result in death and school children are the most affected. (DiscoveryNews) This is even more reason to vaccinate the schools. If there is a way to protect ourselves, why not do it?

Ultimately, the flu will come around every year. Do we want to watch healthy children die unexpectedly? Or do we want to defend our children from this disease? A simple shot is all it takes. It’s the realistic choice. Children come to school to learn, they shouldn’t have to worry about what germs they might pick up. It’s the school’s responsibility to keep the kids safe and to do that, they should make a flu shot mandatory. Give your child a flu shot. Not just for them, but for the children that they may never meet.

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