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WKBW-TV: Will New York State make flu shots mandatory for school kids?

Released: 9/14/2020 9:31:43 AM

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Will New York State make flu shots mandatory for school kids?

It's a question now being considered by state leaders as some school districts reopen for in person learning as the flu season approaches

“The more we can do to prevent kids from getting sick, the better,” stated Dr. Dennis Kuo, medical director of pediatric care, Oishei Children's Hospital in Buffalo.

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Eileen Buckley
Dr. Dennis Kuo, medical director of pediatric primary care, Oishei Children's Hospital in Buffalo, during a Zoom interview.

The pediatrician said there's not enough evidence that making flu shots mandatory would make a difference, however, he highly recommends them for all children.

“Right now, I think that any child that is eligible for flu shot — really, really encourage that they get their flu shots,” replied Dr. Kuo. “Flu shots are a good idea and we need to be just encouraging as much as possible.”

The state said the flu season would only complicate the covid situation.

In a conference call Thursday, State health department commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker would only say making flu shots mandatory is being considered.

“We’re looking at all these possibilities to see what we can do,” said Dr. Zucker. “I think the public health information is the first necessary thing to do, but we are looking at that as a possibility.”

“The smaller we can make our flu numbers, the better off we are going to be. Any flu case is going to complicate the covid picture,” remarked Dr. Lauren Kuwick, pediatrician, O’Connor Medical Group in Orchard Park.

Dr. Kuwick said if the flu vaccine is mandatory for all students that would make it more difficult for those already “disenfranchised” because of virtual learning.

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Eileen Buckley
Dr. Lauren Kuwick, pediatrician, O’Connor Medical Group in Orchard Park, during a Facetime interview.

“I would worry that it would further marginalize some families were not willing to commit to the flu vaccine,” Dr. Kuwick explained. “If you would have asked me last year, I would have said yes — it’s a great idea. I think it would be a hard sell during the COVID pandemic to mandate flu vaccines,” Kuwick said.

Buffalo Public School families waiting in line Friday afternoon to get help for remote learning told us a flu shot is a must.

“It don't even matter if it's mandatory or not, because I always get my kids a flu shot every year away,” said Shanta Adams, Buffalo school mother.

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Eileen Buckley
Shanta Adams, Buffalo school mom, with her 10-year-old Mar’keilah, who attends Bennett Park Montessori.

Adams ten-year-old daughter, Mar’keilah, attends Bennett Park Montessori. All city school students are learning remotely, but Adam’s said she will make sure her daughter gets a flu vaccine.

“Absolutely, all my kids,” stated Adams.

Student Morgan Knight, who attends BPS #43 also plans to roll up her sleeve.

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Eileen Buckley
Student Morgan Knight, who attends BPS #43, says she will most likely get a flu shot.

“Will you get a flu shot this season?” Buckley asked. “Most likely, probably,” Knight replied.

The state of Massachusetts is requiring all students in K-12, as well as those attending child care and preschool, to get a flu shot.

For now, the New York State health commissioner says they're working with pediatricians to make sure kids get their flu shots.

Doctors are suggesting now is a good time to get a flu shot.

https://www.wkbw.com/rebound/keeping-you-safe/will-new-york-state-make-flu-shots-mandatory-for-school-kids