Flu Vaccine No Longer Required Among Children Below 5 Years Old
A court ruling from the State Supreme Court of New York will force the New York City Health Department to halt one of its public health initiatives of requiring pre-schoolers under the age of five to get flu vaccinations.
Under the Bloomberg-initiated policy, pre-school children will be barred access to the city-regulated and even private-operated pre-schools and daycare centers if they are not subjected to the mandated immunization.
However, Manhattan-based State Supreme Court Justice Manuel J. Mendez declared the policy as unlawful since there is no existing state legislation that validates forced immunization against influenza for pre-school children. The court argued in its decision that the City Health Department clearly acted outside its legal authority by enacting a policy without the official sanction from the state legislature.
Currently, the state public health law requires vaccinations against poliomyelitis, mumps, measles, diphtheria, rubella, varicella, Haemophilus influenza type b, pertussis, tetanus, pneumococcal disease, meningococcal disease and hepatitis B as reported by New York Times.
Pres-school and daycare center operators that failed to follow the regulation are subjected to heavy fines ranging from $200 to $2000.
But the City Health Department felt the court decision was inimical to public interest.
"I am extremely disappointed by today's decision. The vaccination requirement will save lives," remarked Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett as quoted saying by ABC News.
When the policy was brought up for initial public discussion, there was not much reaction to it since it was overshadowed by a ban on large soda drinks. But it gradually faced stern opposition from parents who felt that exclusion from daycare and pre-school access as a result of vaccination non-compliance was way beyond the mandated authority of the city health agency.
"While we evaluate our legal options to protect New York City children from this severe disease, we strongly recommend that parents vaccinate their children against the flu," said Dr. Bassett as mentioned by DNAinfo.