In a move to prevent the spread of the flu this year, all second graders will be given shots, Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman decided this week. Thousands of extra flu inoculations have been ordered, and they will be administered by school nurses in the coming days.
According to the Health Ministry, flu is a serious enough disease to warrant mandated inoculations, as it can lead to death in extreme cases. Schoolchildren are a high-risk group, and studies the Ministry has conducted indicate that they are a locus for the spread of flu in communities. Flu shots are already administered to children in school in upper grades, but the program will now be expanded to second grade.
Similar programs in England have led to a 94 percent decrease in the number of children visiting the doctor over flu-related complaints, with 74 percent fewer visits to the emergency room for students, and 93 percent fewer flu-related hospital stays. Rabbi Litzman hopes to repeat that success in Israel. Each year, another elementary school grade will be added to the list of children eligible for the shots.
The Ministry said that it was possible that some of those inoculated would experience side effects of the shots, including fever, chills, stomach upset, itchiness, headaches, and fatigue.