PRESS RELEASE
From the Office of State Senator Leticia Van de Putte

For Immediate Release
January 8, 2009
Contact: Tiffany Champion, (210) 733-6604

Senator Leticia Van de Putte and Representative Donna Howard jointly file legislation that would make the Flu Vaccine Available to Children in School

(SAN ANTONIO, TX) — In February 2008, the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended that a routine influenza vaccination be given to all healthy children ages six months to 18 years. Since that recommendation was made, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has been working to develop an effective strategy for implementing the recommendation.

To address this timely issue, Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) and Representative Donna Howard (D-Austin) have filed Senate Bill 424 and House Bill 506, which would require the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to jointly establish and implement an influenza vaccination pilot study in select school districts throughout the state to examine its impact on influenza-related morbidity among the state's most vulnerable populations - the elderly and children.

“Providing influenza vaccinations to our children helps protect the overall health of the community," said Senator Van de Putte. "The lives of the elderly, and persons with compromised immune systems are placed at high risk when children, who are important vectors for the spread of the virus, are not immunized."

"As a former critical care nurse, I know this illness disproportionately affects children," Rep. Howard said. "That's why these pilot programs are designed to provide our public health officials with new tools to curb this illness, especially in child care facilities and schools where the flu is most commonly passed from child to child."

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