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On Thursday, Justice Manuel J. Mendez at the state’s high court struck down flu vaccine requirement in NYC’s preschools and day care centers. The requirement, which would have affected 150,000 preschoolers, was passed during mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s times and was slated to take effect this January.
Justice Mendez argued that the city’s health department had no authority to put flu on the list of diseases that require mandatory vaccines in public schools and day care centers. Instead, state lawmakers were the ones to approve this decision.
NYC health commissioner said that she was disappointed with the ruling since it may unnecessarily put so many children at risk. The commissioner argued that the vaccination could literally save lives and prevent the disease from spreading to children and their family members.
The city’s health department announced that it would appeal the ruling, and that it won’t stop from running campaigns to persuade parents to vaccinate their kids. But Aaron Siri, the attorney who sued the city, argued that health officials severely overstepped their attributions.
Siri argued that many parents told him that their doctors said that flu vaccination should not be mandatory because there were more risks than benefits for their children. The lawyer argued that the parents’ right to make such decision should not be removed by a dozen of ‘unelected individuals’ from the city’s health board. Instead, this right can only be removed by elected representatives in New York State’s legislature, Siri added.
The vaccination mandate required kids between ages of 6 months and 59 months to take the vaccine, and imposed fines of up to $2,000 for facilities that didn’t comply with the new public health rule.
The decision was approved by all members in the Board of Health, and there was little public backlash since public attention was more focused on a decision to outlaw large sugary drinks at that time.
But as more and more parents learned about the decision they resisted as their physicians told many of them that the shot was unnecessary, or amid growing concerns that any vaccine may promote autism in small children.
But the high court did not decide whether the vaccine was safe or not. The ruling was about procedural issues since the board exceeded its powers when making flu shot mandatory.
New York children in public schools currently are required to be immunized against a wide range of conditions including Haemophilus influenza type b, whopping cough, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, and poliomyelitis.
Image Source: Flickr