Drug-makers now make a strain of flu vaccine now considered “preventative” because it helps people stop getting sick even if they do get sick. Researchers now are studying whether the vaccine should also be mandatory in the United States.
READ MORE: What would it take to require flu shots?
In Europe, at least 17 countries either have mandatory vaccination programs or encourage it with parental consent or school attendance requirements. In some of the nations with mandatory programs, flu vaccination rates are among the highest in the world, such as Norway, Sweden and Finland.
Making flu shots mandatory in the United States may seem like an extreme idea, but there are signs that doctors and public health officials are more open to it.
For decades, such a mandate was unthinkable because an enterovirus epidemic killed thousands of people in the early 1980s, said Dr. Joseph Bresee, deputy director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Vaccine makers now make a strain of flu vaccine now considered “preventative” because it helps people stop getting sick even if they do get sick. Researchers now are studying whether the vaccine should also be mandatory in the United States.
In those days, the flu vaccine made its own way into the fall flu season by tricking immune systems into thinking that vaccination was critical. But the vaccine might have been even more effective if it had been more widely available. For years, doctors pleaded for a nasal spray to get more people vaccinated, but it was unpopular because kids tend to keep their flu shots inside a locked box.
Now, the CDC is recommending the flu vaccine every year, and even noted that “patients who had no previous flu shot at all ended up at our clinics months after getting the shot,” said Bresee, who works out of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.