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Should Flu Shots Be Required for Kids on Base?

Should your children be required to have the yearly flu vaccine before they can use on-base child facilities?

A recently released administration message from the Marine Corps reiterates in detail that the flu vaccine is a requirement for Marine Corps children whose parents wish them to be registered with the Corps' Children, Youth, and Teen Programs (CYTP).

"All children six months and older who attend USMC Children, Youth and Teen programs are required to receive the annual influenza vaccine unless documented exemption is in participants files," it says.

Reissuing the rule was necessary after Marine Corps officials received repeated requests for clarification, they said. The Corps holds the same policy for their child programs as the Navy -- children who are not enrolled in the school system must have up-to-date shot records, including the flu vaccine, to be a part of Marine Corps CYTP. Medical and religious waivers are accepted, but "philosophical exemptions are not authorized."

School-aged kids don't have to show vaccine proof if they are enrolled in a school which has its own vaccine rules and waivers.  The same rules apply to adults who work for the CYTP system.

The Marine Corps started requiring the flu shot in 2011 when the Navy started doing so as well. Marine Corps officials said that decision was based on these recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices (ACIP). The Air Force also requires the yearly flu vaccine for child services participation.

The Army, however, does not. While their guidelines say an annual flu shot is recommended, parents don't have to show proof of having it before registering or bringing their children to Army Child and Youth Services (CYS) activities. All other commonly recommended vaccines are, however, required.

While parents often complain about not being permitted to enroll their children in Army CYS (or any services' child and youth program) because of the vaccine rules, I've never heard anyone complain that the Army's rules are too lax because they ignore the yearly flu shot.

That begs the question: are the Corps, Navy and Air Force vaccine rules too strict because they do require the yearly flu shot? Or is the Army the one missing the boat?

Vaccines can be a contentious subject, particularly ones that often seem to not work.

What do you think?

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