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Friday, July 12, 2024 | Back issues
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Parents Spit on Forced Flu Shots for NYC Tykes

MANHATTAN (CN) - A mandate for all New York City toddlers of a certain age to receive flu shots amounts to a "bold and gross violation of the separation of powers," five parents claim in court.

"There is literally no legislative grant permitting the DOH to grant itself the authority to mandate any vaccine it desires and create an unprecedented regime to enforce its self-created dictates," the complaint filed Monday in Manhattan Supreme Court states, abbreviating the Department of Health. "None."

The rule in question, which the plaintiff parents call "unprecedented," mandates that all children between 6 and 59 months in New York receive annual influenza vaccines.

The Health Department adopted the rule upon orders two years ago from then New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, tracking earlier recommendations of the Center for Disease Control.

As with the bans on smoking in public places and regulations on soda sizes, Bloomberg's vaccination rules were a public-health initiative that met public resistance.

While Bloomberg's anti-smoking efforts survived, New York courts ultimately sided with the soda industry that the former mayor's so-called "Portion Cap Rule" overstepped the power of the executive.

Bloomberg used the same justification for his flu shot mandate that he used for the soda-size regulation: Section 558 of the New York City Charter, according to the lawsuit.

The lead plaintiff in the case, filed on Nov. 9 in Manhattan Supreme Court, is Magdalena Garcia, of East Harlem, who has a 3-year-old.

Garcia and the other parents note that the New York state Legislature has long failed to pass what Bloomberg directed by executive fiat.

When a CDC advisory committee started recommending the flu shot for toddlers in 2007, a bill noting that event died in the Senate three times before finally passing three years later.

The final bill to pass relied on education rather than compulsion by the state to increase influenza immunization rates.

Denying that they are anti-vaxxers, the parents emphasize that they "provide and continue to intend to provide their children with all vaccines required by New York state law."

"They only object, like many parents in this state, to giving their child the flu shot," their complaint states.

The parents seek an injunction blocking the enforcement of the mandatory flu shots.

They are represented by Aaron Siri of the Manhattan-based firm Siri & Glimstad.

The New York City Department of Health did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.

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