No Mandatory Flu Shots for Day Cares and Preschools Here - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

No Mandatory Flu Shots for Day Cares and Preschools Here

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Doctors encourage parents to vaccinate their children. Doctors encourage parents to vaccinate their children.
KENNEWICK, WA- As flu season nears, doctors continue to push people to get vaccinated, especially younger kids.

It is very easy to get distracted with concerns for Ebola, but doctors want people to remember that the flu is just as important.  When most people think of flu vaccinations, they think of younger children in day cares and preschools.

Every year kids get vaccinated for the upcoming flu season, but now some states like New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut require kids in day care centers and preschools to get the shot, but that is not happening here.

“We prefer that people make informed choices and come to their own conclusions about the benefits of getting vaccinated versus the risks,” said Dr. Amy Person with Benton-Franklin Health District.

Dr. Person said studies have shown those states that require shots have seen positive results. 

“Vaccination rates do go up and hospitalization rates go down, so we do know that it is effective,” said Dr. Person.

She also said there are two main reasons why it is so important for kids to get vaccinated.  One of the reasons is that children under 5-years-old can be hospitalized from getting the flu if it becomes severe.  The other reason is that children can bring the flu virus home. 

Currently, only 60% of kids are getting flu shots, and officials want to remind everyone that it is serious.

“Influenza kills up to 35,000 people in the U.S. every year.  It's important to be aware and protect yourself,” said Sue Lemon, Trios Health Infection Control Coordinator.

“Herd immunity” is when a large number of people get flu shots, which makes the majority of the population less likely to get the flu.  It can also protect those that do not get vaccinated, but Dr. Person said that has gone down.

“We're losing some of that herd immunity that we've counted on in the past,” said Dr. Person.

Health officials will continue to allow parents to have a choice to get their kids vaccinated or not.