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Deadline looms for mandatory flu vaccine for NYC students

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NEW YORK (PIX11) -- Parents have two weeks as of Wednesday to vaccine their children against the flu before sending them back to pre-K after winter break.

This is the first school year that a flu vaccine is required for students attending pre-kindergarten. Parents were alerted to the change in June by the city's health commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett.

Pre-K students in New York City must receive at least one dose of the influenza vaccine between July 1 and Dec. 31, and submit proof of immunization to the child's school, Bassett said.

It's part of a citywide initiative to combat the flu, which is highly contagious and kills thousands of  Americans every year.

As New York City battled its first and so far only case of Ebola in October and November, Bassett, Mayor Bill de Blasio and other city health leaders called the flu a greater threat to New Yorkers than the disease ravaging West Africa and many health care providers dispatched to fight the Ebola scourge.

They encouraged New Yorkers to get vaccinated against the flu as they also urged them to remain calm about the single case of Ebola being treated at a Manhattan hospital.

Flu is now widespread in New York State as of Dec. 6, the most recent day for which CDC data was available.

(Photo: CDC)

(Photo: CDC)

While severe cases of the flu are rare, children younger than 5 and especially children younger than 2 are at especial risk for developing flu-related complications, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Adults age 65 and older, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems or underlying health conditions are also at risk of developing complications from the flu, the CDC said.

Getting children vaccinated against the flu can in turn protect those high-risk relatives in their lives, health officials said.

And a shot isn't the only way to vaccinate a child. The CDC said a nasal spray vaccine is the preferred method of immunization for healthy children between 2 and 8 years old.

Other changes to the pre-K immunization policy include the new requirement that students receive vaccines against Haemophilus influenza Type B (Hib) and Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV).

Parents should discuss with their pediatrician how many doses of the Hib and PCV vaccines their child needs because the dosage requirements are "complex," the health department said.

Those vaccines joined a list of existing requirements for DTaP, Polio, Measles-Mumps-Rubella, Varicella and Hepatitis vaccines.

5 comments

  • melissah

    NYC is really going to far with some of the things they’ve tried to enforce over the last few years. If I were a parent there- I’d be pissed. This is very different than current required school immunizations, as this would require being done yearly, AND the flu vaccine does this stop one from getting the flu (as other required vaccinations cover a broader scope). The flu vaccine is only effective against whatever the popular strain is that it’s based on. There’s gotta be some legality in fighting this. I’m not an anti-vaccer, but this is just….too much. Unless the city plans on providing free shots for everyone, this is ludicrous.

    • melissah

      Case in point- this year’s flu season is expected to be rougher than normal? Why?…because the vaccine that’s out is NOT designed for the main flu virus going around. The flu virus that going around is a mutated version of the one in the vaccine. You might get a milder flu…but thats about it if you get the mutated strain.

  • Erin

    The flu is not a national crisis! In almost all cases it is an inconvenience at best and more than a little miserable at worst. We are a nation of drama and overwhelming exaggeration. Parents should have the right to allow their child to be exposed naturally…or get the shot to attempt to avoid it. Although, this year’s vaccines aren’t a very good match so I don’t know why they are trying so hard to push something they know isn’t as effective as it has been in the years past. Regardless, we need to calm down, take a breath, and not assume that EVERYONE will get the flu or die from it if they don’t get vaccinated. I know an awful lot of people who obediently got their shot, but still got super sick from a different strain floating around (and then passed that strain on to a plethora of other people)…so what did it actually prevent? Not misery for sure. If you feel you need it, get it. If you aren’t that worried, we should be able to have a choice for ourselves and our children. If the vaccines aren’t a match, it won’t do any good to tell parents they must vaccinate to prevent something that isn’t covered in the vaccine anyway. Just calm down, NY!

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