Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Should all children get flu shots?

Written By: Jason Shafrin - Feb• 29•08

According to Reuters (“All U.S. kids…“), the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is recommending that all kids should receive an influenza vaccination. Previously, the CDC recommended that all children 0-6 receive a flu shot. Now, all children 18 and under should get the shot.

In addition to the direct health benefits the children will receive from a decreased likelihood of getting the flu, the probability that they will spread it to adults, teachers, other children, and senior citizens will decrease.

However, there will be costs to the flu vaccine expansion. According to the U.S. Census, there were 61.3 million children aged 5-19 in the U.S. Getting all these children vaccinated will be very costly and since the vaccines will be given in the fall, the logistics of providing 61 million additional flu shots will be difficult to manage.

Further, one of my working papers (“Adam Smith meets Jonas Salk: Estimating the Social Cost of Third-Party Influenza Vaccination Restrictions“) finds that when kids 0-18 year old must receive a flu vaccine efficiency losses could increase to as much as $560 million if insurance companies continue to prohibiting reimbursement to pediatricians for vaccinating adults.

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