Teachers should be required to get swine flu shots

November 4, 2009 — by Christine Tseng

Some use the phrase “only when pigs begin to fly” as an expression to describe the impossible. In California, though, it’s not the pigs that are flying, it’s the flu. Must any more be said? Swine flu: one of the most pressing issues today. The recent outbreak has hit hundreds of cities across the United States, and there have already been 219 deaths reported just in California from this disease.

A pressing question now is whether teachers should be required to get vaccinated against the flu. Teachers come into contact with hundreds of students every day and they are one of the people in most danger. If one undiagnosed case were to happen, the whole school and community could quickly become infected.

This is an easy choice: All teachers should be required to be vaccinated. The swine flu is easily spread and if people are not careful, this flu, which has always been a threatening next-door neighbor, could become a regular resident in Saratoga. Many students have already gotten sick recently, and there have even been a couple of confirmed cases of H1N1 in the school.

One reservation some teachers have for getting the shot is not unfounded—many fear that they are susceptible to contracting another disease accidentally if the needles are unclean, or if the resultant lowered immune system proves to only be a gateway for other types of infection. Vaccines, after all, are said to briefly lower the body’s ability to fight unfriendly invasion prior to producing antibodies. However, the vaccine has been developed in the form of a nasal spray. With a couple of puffs in the nose, one can have the same effect of jabbing a needle into the body.

Others say that adults are showing more resistance to the flu than children, and therefore adults should not be a priority. However, most adults do not come in contact with nearly as many children as teachers, and the circumstances are obviously different. Also, even if a teacher might not contact the disease, he or she could carry it and then pass it on to an unsuspecting student in a later class.

It is highly disappointing that health care workers, teachers and other individuals who hold jobs that demand frequent contact with people are not already required to receive the vaccine. As mentioned before, California has had the most H1N1 related deaths of all the states by far. The next closest is humid, petri-dish Florida, with 121.

New York, after a big increase in flu-related cases including that of an assistant principal, has already made the shots mandatory for health workers and teachers, and the results are showing. So far, New York has only had 89 deaths, despite its crowded conditions in many places.

California, also with a big population, should follow suit.

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