NYC Parents Rebelling Against Flu Shot Mandate for Preschoolers

A New York City mandate has parents pulling their children from preschool to avoid having to give them a flu shot.
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In New York City, some parents feel they are being forced to choose between giving their preschool-age kids the flu shot and continuing their education. That's because a new mandate requires all children younger than 5 to get the shot, or they'll be barred from school after December 31.

Claiming they aren't anti-vaccine, the NYC parents say they don't want the city to tell them what to do with their children's health, adding that they believe the flu shot is ineffective. Last year's dose did little to protect against prevalent strains of the sometimes-fatal infection. Even the Centers for Disease Control admit the vaccine was only 23 percent effective.

Many parents also question the safety of the flu shot, since last year, eight children younger than 17 died due to complications from the shot. It's worth noting, though, that nearly 150 kids died from the actual flu in the same time period.

New York City's mandate is currently being challenged by a lawsuit, and has inspired a Change.org petition, in addition to other tactics to avoid immunization, such as saying doctors' offices have waiting lists for the vaccine.

Should parents follow a strict vaccine schedule or is there room for flexibility?

But schools must honor the mandate, or else they face hefty fines and the possible loss of their licenses for allowing unvaccinated kids to come back to class after the New Year.

A stone's throw from the city in suburban New Jersey, my daughter's preschool is requiring her to get vaccinated, or else she cannot return to school after December 31 either.

Despite my misgivings about the effectiveness of the flu shot, I ended up trudging over to the CVS Minute Clinic to get the entire family vaccinated. I figure even if the shot is as unreliable as it was last year, some protection is better than none. And I'm sure as heck not going to keep my 5-year-old home from school next year, because then my sanity is what would be unreliable.

Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.

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