NYC Board Of Health Mandates Flu Shot For Children

Daily News Article   —   Posted on December 12, 2013

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The New York City Board of Health voted Wednesday unanimously in favor of the mandatory vaccine for children under 6. The new rule takes effect in 30 days and will be required for about 150,000 children.

image1200Connecticut and New Jersey are the only two states in America with mandatory flu shots for children in daycare. The measure passed Wednesday by the Board of Health would only apply to New York City and not the rest of New York state.

The proposal is among several of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s final health mandates [Mr. Bloomberg’s term as mayor ends on January 1, 2014]. Bloomberg’s controversial Board of Health, whose members are all mayoral appointees. Their previous initiatives included the proposed soda ban and bans on smoking and trans fats.

“Young children have a high risk of developing severe complications from influenza. One-third of children under five in New York City do not receive an annual influenza vaccination, even though the vaccine safely and effectively protects them against influenza illness,” the Health Department said in a statement. “This mandate will help protect the health of young children, while reducing the spread of influenza in New York City.”

“We think we can prevent 20,000 to 25,000 kids a year from being sick,” said Dr. Jay Varma, Deputy Commissioner for Disease Control for New York City, adding: “Children under the age of 5 are at the highest risk of both contracting influenza as well as suffering severe complications. The only absolute [reason for not getting a flu vaccine] is a previous severe allergic reaction.”

Not everyone is thrilled about the new vaccine requirement. Even before the decision was announced, the proposal drew the ire of critics who say the vaccination mandate is an overreach of the board’s power. They point out that mandating flu vaccines for children is extremely rare; currently, only two other states, Connecticut and New Jersey, have such requirements on the books.

“The Bloomberg administration is wildly exaggerating the benefit of the flu shot and we think they are wildly underestimating the risks involved with it,” John Gilmore, the executive director of the Autism Action Network, told the New York Observer. “There are risks associated with every medical procedure.” He went on to cite allergic reactions and exposure to toxic mercury, which is used as a preservative, as just a few of the possible adverse side effects of the vaccination.

Children in New York City daycare and preschool are already required to get a number of vaccinations before enrolling in school, including for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, poliomyelitis, measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, hepatitis B and haemophilus.

While the new law provides certain exemptions, as in the case of religion, it does not provide an out for parents who oppose having their kids vaccinated for flu on philosophical grounds. Even those whose religion prohibits vaccination may have to provide documentation from a religious figure.

Other exemptions will be made for children who have an allergy to the vaccine, “as certified by a physician licensed to practice medicine in this state,” the law reads. 

Parents who are strongly opposed to the initiative could avoid the mandated vaccines by sending their children outside the city to a New York state preschool or daycare. 

Compiled from articles published on Dec. 11 at and CBS New York. Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission.