New Jersey Makes Flu Shots Mandatory for Preschoolers
New Jersey has just become the first state to require flu shots for all children attending preschool and day care centers. Sixth graders have also had two new shots added to their mandatory vaccination schedule, a DPT booster and a meningitis shot.
Here are the details of the new requirements:
-- Children aged 6 months to 4 years and nine months old must get the flu shot each year to attend preschool or day care.
-- Children two months to 4 years and nine months old also must get the pneumonia (pneumococcal) vaccine.
-- Sixth graders must get a Diptheria-Pertussis-Tetanus (DPT shot) booster in order to attend school.
-- Sixth graders must get a meningitis shot in order to attend school.
Since opting out of vaccinations is difficult in New Jersey (only allowable on religious or medical grounds), many parents are concerned that they will have no say in whether their children are given the flu shot or not.
"It is not right for the government and unelected councils to dictate what we put into our children," said Sue Collins, co-founder of the New Jersey Alliance for Informed Choice in Vaccination.
While many vaccines given to children don't contain mercury, the flu shot does contain the potentially harmful heavy metal.
New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine, who approved the new vaccine requirements, said he didn't "want to speak to the specifics."
However, Gov. Corzine is quite proud of the heavy pharmaceutical presence in his state and he stated in June of this year that "Central New Jersey is the birthplace of the global pharmaceutical industry."
The pharmaceutical and medical technology industry contributes more than $27 billion to New Jersey's economy.
"The pharmaceutical and life sciences industries are vital to New Jersey's economic stability," said Governor Corzine. "I am proud that 15 of the world's 20 largest pharmaceutical companies and over 235 biotech companies call New Jersey home. The men and women working in this important field help to maintain New Jersey's role as a global leader in life sciences."
Not surprisingly, stock analysts say this could be a "big boost" for flu vaccine makers.
Is it any surprise, then, that the state that stands to gain the most from making the flu vaccine mandatory for all preschoolers is the first one to do so?