Legislative Prospectus: Immunization
December 29, 2021
Vaccination is one of public health’s most powerful and cost-effective tools to prevent disease, disability, and death among children and adults. All states and territories require children to be vaccinated against certain diseases (e.g., measles) to enroll in school. These vaccination requirements always include a medical exemption and at least 44 states and Washington, D.C. also grant a religious or personal belief exemption.
Beyond childhood vaccinations, some states require immunizations for healthcare workers and private employers may require vaccinations as a condition of employment. With the 2021-2022 influenza season coinciding with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, public health efforts to ensure vaccination for both COVID-19 and flu are important to prevent severe illness from overwhelming the healthcare system. Each year millions of Americans receive a flu vaccine. During the 2020-2021 flu season 58.6% of children between six months and 17 years old and 50.2% of adults received the flu vaccine.
While effectiveness varies, recent studies show vaccination reduces the risk of flu by 40-60%. Getting an annual flu vaccine not only reduces the risk of illness and death, but also lowers the risk of hospitalization and time away from school or work. For these and a variety of other public health-related reasons, CDC recommends an annual flu vaccination for everyone six months of age and older.