By Anne Dachel
Read Anne's comments and view the links after the jump.
Dec 11, 2013, ABC7: New York City Board of Health approves mandatory flu shots for kids
Dec 10, 2013, Yeshiva World: Autism Group To Protest Bloomberg's Last-Minute Push for Mandatory Flu Vaccines
Dec 10, 2013, CBS News NYC may mandate flu vaccines for all daycare, preschool students
Dec 10, 2013, Wall Street Journal: NYC Board of Health to Vote on Child Flu Shot Rule
Could New York City school children soon be required to get a flu shot?
With three weeks left in office, that's what Mayor Bloomberg is pushing, and not all parents are happy about it.
Flu vaccines could soon be mandatory for up to 150,000 children in New York City.
The Board of Health will vote on new rules that would require a flu vaccine for all children age 6 months to five years who attend a licensed preschool or daycare. . . .
"We already require children be vaccinated against measles, mumps, whooping cough, chicken pox and this is really adding one vaccine- one we know is important," adds Dr. Varma.
Just like other required vaccines, parents can opt out for medical and religious reasons, but adding one more to the list has some parents angry.
"It takes away informed consent from parents and the ability of parents to make the decision as to what may be the best health choice for their family," said Kim Mack Rosenberg, who is the mother of an autistic child.
A planned protest was cancelled due to weather, but as a mother and attorney, Kim questions the requirement.Yeshiva World
"The Bloomberg administration is wildly exaggerating the benefit of the flu shot and we think they are wildly underestimating the risks involved with it," said John Gilmore, the executive director of the Autism Action Network, who is organizing Tuesday's protest. "There are risks associated with every medical procedure," he said, citing allergic reactions, toxic mercury used as a preservative and questions as to whether the Board's move is legal given state government jurisdictions."
Mr. Gilmore admitted he doesn't expect the Board's vote to go his way, but he hopes the rally will get Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's attention, potentially opening the door for a reversal once he takes office in January.
"This is basically to put the mayor-elect [on alert], make him aware that this is an issue that he's going to have to deal with it. It's not going to go away," Mr. Gilmore told Politicker. "He is kind of doing this in a stealth fashion. He just proposed this about 6 weeks ago. I don't think there was any announcement."CBS News
Under the proposal, a daycare or preschool can choose to exclude a child from their facility if he or she doesn't get the vaccine. If the facility does not keep up to date vaccination records for its kids, it could be subject to a fine.
Mandating a flu vaccine for young children is uncommon. Varma noted that only New Jersey and Connecticut have similar requirements for some schools. . . .
The only allowable exemptions are medical, when people have rare side effects to vaccines or conditions that prevent them from receiving one, or religious, which would have to be verified by a religious official.
New York State does not allow philosophical exemptions, such as over fears of vaccine side effects. Varma said that's a good thing, since philosophical differences were behind some reported upticks in diseases like measles for some parts of the country. Wall Street Journal
Some parents and anti-vaccine activists, though, are fighting the initiative, which would apply to children ages six months to 59 months, which is nearly 5 years old.
If approved, the measure would go into effect in 2014, and children would need to get a flu shot by Dec. 31 of each year.
The measure comes after four New York City children died from the flu last year, a number described as higher than expected by Jay Varma, the city's deputy commissioner for disease control.. . .
The proposal, one of the final health initiatives of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is being championed by some parents and advocates, including Richard Kanowitz, president of Families Fighting Flu, who lost his daughter at age 4 to the flu.
Mr. Kanowitz, who recently moved to Westchester County, said his organization has been advocating for the Bloomberg measure.
"Somebody gave my daughter the flu," Mr. Kanowitz said, "and had she gotten the vaccine, she would probably be here."
But a group of parents have been rallying against the shots. John Gilmore, the executive director of the Autism Action Network, said his child has neurological damage as a result of several vaccinations administered at once.
Is this the future for school districts around the country?
Next year will it be preschool to 12th grade in NYC schools?
Someone needs to answer the questions the media should be asking:
Are school districts/boards of health ALSO indemnified against damage suits if a child gets sick following this mass vaccination?
Is Bloomberg willing to assume liability for side effects?
Are parents going to be told that no one is legally liable here?
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.