Texans do not take kindly to being bullied on matters of personal health. But that is exactly what is happening as children across Texas came home from their first day of school with information explaining a new school-based flu vaccination program.
Healthy Schools is a Florida-based company, so perhaps they just do not know any better. Let’s go through the information they provided and discuss the ways they miss the mark. In the letter explaining the program, it states THIS FORM MUST BE RETURNED TO YOUR CHILD’S SCHOOL REGARDLESS OF PARTICIPATION. We welcome Healthy Schools to please tell us which Texas law mandates parents to return a form for an optional program for an optional shot.
On the enclosed Seasonal Flu Vaccine Consent Form there is no mention of which specific flu shot will be administered. There are around a dozen flu shot varieties that range from inactivated, live and recombinant options presented as quadrivalent, trivalent and cell-culture-based shots. The Vaccine Information Sheet (VIS) that was provided to parents pertains to all Inactivated or Recombinant Flu Vaccines, but there are still ten shots available that fall into these categories. There is no way for a VIS to apply to ALL ten shots that might be used. How can parents possibly make an actual informed decision when they do not know what specific shot will be given to their child? The vague and general VIS is NO substitute for genuine informed consent.
A concerned parent called to ask Healthy Schools which shot would be used and Sheila Gorski, the Austin Hub Manager for Healthy Schools, said, “for children ages four and older, Flucelvax manufactured by Seqiris would ‘most likely’ be given via injection as it is the only one they feel may have a chance at being effective this year.”
Assuming that Flucelvax will be administered, parents can access the Physician’s Prescribing Information here prior to giving consent. It includes a few things worth mentioning including information regarding known contraindications, warnings and precautions, adverse reactions, safety and efficacy for specific populations/ages, toxicology, and information unknown or not available by the manufacturer.
The consent portion at the bottom of the form is also troublesome. Parents see these two options:
YES, I Want To Help Protect My Family And My Community From Flu By Allowing My Child To Receive A Flu Vaccine
NO, I DO NOT wish to help protect my child and community by allowing my child to participate (reason) _____________
The wording is blatant bullying, and we’d like Healthy Schools to know that it is legally none of your business why someone declines ANY medical procedure in Texas.
And let’s talk about how getting the flu shot helps protect communities. Each year, the CDC publishes the Vaccine Effectiveness (VE) for the flu shot. Since tracking the VE of the flu shot began in 2004, the VE has ranged from 10-60%. At best, the flu vaccine may be 60 percent effective. At worst, it is essentially completely ineffective. Students are taught early that any score under 60% means one thing: failure.
How can community protection from the flu be achieved considering the shot’s historically low VE? Even if 100% of students on a campus receive the shot, the majority would be nearly indistinguishable from non-vaccinated students the next campus over when it comes to how many get the flu.
There are many other issues of concern about this program but we are choosing to focus on the lack of informed consent and the highly offensive way that the program was presented. Under no circumstance should a family feel obligated to provide Healthy Schools with any personal medical information or participate in their program. We are additionally appalled that any Texas school district would allow for the participation in a program so obviously lacking in informed consent and basic medical privacy.
If you are equally appalled, please let Sheila Gorski, the Austin Hub Manager for Healthy Schools, know your concerns. She can be reached at (904) 436-8960. Texans for Vaccine Choice would also like to know which school districts are participating in this program, so please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org indicating your district.
Texans for Vaccine Choice supports all Texans in their pursuit of medical liberties and informed consent.