Flu shots required for all students at Defense Department schools

Students at Department of Defense Education Activity schools are required to get a flu shot under a new rule that went into effect this academic year.

According to the rule, all students must have the vaccination by Dec. 1.

"The annual influenza vaccine is the best defense against influenza. The military community is a highly transient one, which increases the potential for exposure and the spread of infectious diseases such as influenza," according to an announcement posted on the DoDEA website.

The requirement applies to all students attending DoDEA schools and will be in effect every year, according to the announcement.

However, students will not be forced to leave school if the vaccine is unavailable at the military treatment facility or the MTF can't administer it by the Dec. 1 deadline.

"DoDEA will work with the MTFs to ensure students can receive the vaccine when it becomes available, and the MTFs can provide the service," officials stated.

More than 73,000 students attend 168 DoDEA schools in eight districts across 11 countries, seven states and two territories.

This year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has advised that the nasal spray flu vaccine not be used during the 2016-2017 flu season. ACIP recommends the use of the injectable vaccine for everyone six months and older.

Parents can contact their local MTF immunization clinic or their school nurse for more information.

DoDEA officials said the change was made to follow "guidance and recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the Department of Defense Joint Medical Services regulation on immunizations."

Karen Jowers covers military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times. She can be reached at kjowers@militarytimes.com

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