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NEW YORK (PIX11) – Thomasina Leggett’s son, now 7,  was 2 years old when he got his first and only flu shot.

“He got sick, so I don’t get the flu shot for him.  I’d rather not .  He does fine without it.  It’s optional,” said Leggett.

It’s now no longer an option for children in preschool and daycare.  For them, it will soon be mandatory.  The board of health voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of requiring children as young as six months to be immunized every year.

Dr. Jay Varma, the Department of Health’s Deputy Commissioner for Disease, presented the need for the new regulation, saying it will help save lives, and keep as many as 20,000 city children from getting sick.

“Our focus on children under the age of 5 is because really they are a population that is incredibly vulnerable for getting this infection and having complications from it,” said Dr. Varma.

 Pediatric nurse Melody Butler, who had her 18-month-old daughter vaccinated, has seen the flu claim very young lives.

“I’ve seen cases of the flu progress in three to four days to death, and it can be very sad.  This can happen in previously healthy children,” said Butler who hopes Nassau and Suffolk counties adopt the measure.

A handful of protestors against all vaccines showed up at the Department of Health’s headquarters in Long Island City.  Some noted the possible link between certain vaccinations and autism.

Parents will be able to opt their children out of the vaccines for religious or medical reasons.

The initiative will take effect in 30 days, and children must be vaccinated by Dec. 31, 2014.