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NYC Could Soon Mandate Flu Shots For Small Children

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Some New York City parents may soon be required by law to have their children vaccinated for the flu.

As CBS 2's Emily Smith reported, the plan would mandate that children as young as six months old and enrolled in day cares and preschools receive the shot.

The proposal, which could be approved by the city's Board of Health on Wednesday night, is the latest initiative by the health-conscious Bloomberg administration, which is also fighting to limit soda sizes, has raised the purchasing age for cigarettes to 21, has banned trans fats in restaurants and has required eateries to display calorie counts.

"It's what you do to protect both yourself, your kids, the people you live with and who you go to work and school with," one woman said of requiring the flu shots. "So it's the right thing to do."

"I think it's a good idea for New York City to take that initiative," another woman said.

Connecticut and New Jersey are the only states in the United States that require the shots for children in day cares. Bloomberg's proposal would be unprecedented because it would only apply to a city, not a state.

"We think we can prevent about 20 to 25 thousand kids a year from being sick," said Dr. Jay Varma, the city's deputy commissioner for disease control.

Varma said, if approved, the law would take effect in 30 days.

Autism advocates strongly oppose the plan. Kimberly Mack Rosenberg has a child on the autism spectrum and isn't ruling out that a flu shot might be responsible.

"For him, I don't know if it was a flu vaccine," she said. "I do believe that his autism was at least partially vaccine mediated."

Children in day care and preschool are already required to get vaccinated against illnesses such as measles and chicken pox. City officials believe their latest initiative just adds another layer of protection for children and also those who come in contact with them.

Parents who are strongly opposed to the initiative could avoid the mandated vaccines by sending their children to a state preschool or day care.

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