MANHATTAN (CN) - The New York City Department of Health is barred from enforcing mandate that would force toddlers of a certain age to get flu shots or skip out on kindergarten and day care, a judge ruled on Thursday.
On Nov. 9, East Harlem mother Magdalena Garcia became the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit to fight a vaccination mandate would have kept her 3-year-old out of preschool.
The mandatory influenza vaccines would have applied to all toddlers between the ages of 6 and 59 months old, tracking earlier recommendations from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention.
Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who pressed for its application, encountered stiff resistance while trying to implement his public-health platform. And while Bloomberg largely succeeded in limiting smoking in public places, New York courts ultimately blocked the former mayor's so-called "Portion Cap Rule" that would have banned large sodas.
Lawyers for four parents led by Garcia cited that case in arguing that Bloomberg overstepped his executive power again with a flu-shot requirement that only the state Legislature had the authority to pass.
New York County Supreme Court Judge Manuel Mendez agreed with them in a 9-page ruling.
"The New York state Legislature retains the statutory authority to mandate vaccinations not already expressed within the public health law," he wrote.
The parents' lawyer Aaron Siri, from the Manhattan-based firm Siri & Glimstad, lauded the ruling.
"My clients couldn't be more pleased that their toddlers won't be kicked out of preschool on Dec. 31," he said in an email.
Health commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said she is "extremely disappointed by today's decision."
"Influenza kills an average of 24,000 people each year in the United States, and the virus is spread easily in child care settings to children and their families," Bassett said. "The vaccination requirement will save lives and protect New York City children from this severe disease. While we proceed with an appeal, we strongly recommend that parents vaccinate their children against the flu."
Subscribe to Closing Arguments
Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.