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Flu Vaccination Rule Could Boost Rates

Update Date: Mar 08, 2014 11:00 AM EST

Every year, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stresses the importance for children over six-months-old and adults to get vaccinated against the flu. However, the nation's flu vaccination rates continue to remain extremely low. According to a new study, enforcing a flu vaccine rule that requires young children in preschool or daycare centers to get a flu shot could effectively decrease the number of flu-related hospitalizations.

For this study, the researchers examined the flu vaccine law that was enforced in Connecticut back in 2010. New Jersey and New York City also enforce this law that mandate children entering preschool and daycare centers to get the flu shot. The researchers found that in Connecticut the flu vaccination rate jumped from 68 percent during the 2009-2010 season to 84 percent in 2012-2013.

"We found that of all the influenza hospitalizations in Connecticut, many fewer were in children 1 to 4 years old after the requirement than before the requirement," said lead researcher Dr. James Hadler, a clinical professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health. "That difference, we feel, has resulted in children attending daycare being better protected against influenza and its severe complications."

The researchers reported that after evaluating hospitalizations related to the flu in 11 areas, Connecticut had the largest reductions in hospitalizations for children aged four and below. From 2007-2008 to 2012-2013, there was a 12 percent reduction. The researchers concluded that in order to prevent children from falling extremely ill to the flu, they should be required to get vaccinated especially if they will come into contact with other children constantly. The CDC reported that the flu vaccine is the best protection people can get from the virus.

"Where there are a lot of susceptible people in a small space, like daycare centers and preschools, you have the potential for easy spread of influenza," Hadler said according to WebMD. "The kids get it, they give it to each other, they all take it home to their families, the families get it and spread it to other people."

The report was published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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