Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Manuel Mendez overturned a 2013 health code amendment on Thursday that required New York City children between the ages of 6 and 59 months to receive the flu vaccine before they could attend certain types of preschool or daycare programs.
Five mothers from across the city filed suit in November, claiming that the New York City Department of Health (DOH) – who approved the rule during former Mayor Bloomberg’s administration – had no authority to implement such changes without state legislative approval.
City officials argued that a 150-year-old statute allowed the DOH to enact new vaccine requirements that would prevent the spread of communicable diseases.
In his 9-page decision, though, Justice Mendez sided with the aggrieved parents, writing that the city “must yield to the more recent and more specific statutes, which do not mandate the influenza vaccines required by the Amendments, or give Respondents the statutory authority to mandate new vaccines without prior enactments from the New York State legislature.”
“I am extremely disappointed by today’s decision,” Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said in a statement.
“Influenza kills an average of 36,000 people each year in the United States, and the virus is spread easily in child care settings to children and their families. The vaccination requirement will save lives. 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.”
What are your thoughts on the decision from Justice Mendez? Do you make sure your child receives the flu vaccine each year? Why or why not?