NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Monday, November 9, 2015, 6:48 PM
A group of five New York moms say they’re bugged by the city’s flu shot mandate for young kids – and they want an emergency court remedy.
The moms from Manhattan and Brooklyn filed a lawsuit Monday claiming unelected city health officials overstepped their bounds in December 2013 when they decided all children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years must get an annual influenza vaccination to attend city-regulated daycares and preschools.
Under the policy, the youngsters must receive the shot by Dec. 31 each year or face expulsion or fines as high as $ 2,000 levied on their institutions.
The moms claim they’re happy to give their kids all the other vaccines required by state law, just not the flu shot, which is not ordered at the state level, according to the suit.
“In order to remain in daycare, these parents would be forced to violate the fundamental right to bodily integrity, among other fundamental rights, and inject their child with the flu shot against their desires and judgment,” lawyer Aaron Siri wrote in a request for an injunction filed with the suit in Manhattan Supreme Court.
“A flu shot cannot be ‘undone,'” he wrote.
The paperwork only vaguely attacks the influenza vaccine as potentially dangerous.
Citing the Centers for Disease Control, it lists the common ingredients used in the shots, including the chemical compound thimerosal, which contains mercury.
“I believe that my human right to informed consent as to what should be injected into my toddler’s body, especially where my learned judgment is that she should not receive the flu shot, at least should be (considered) by my elected representatives,” plaintiff Clemence Rasigni, an investment banker mom of a 3-year-old in the Flatiron District, wrote in her affidavit.
Rasigni and the other plaintiffs – Magdalena Garcia of Harlem, Lynn Rosenger of Borough Park, Michelle Carroll of Bay Ridge and Gabrielle Jakob of Sheepshead Bay – say the city is on a “slippery slope” if it allows the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Board of Health to continue with its “egregiously unprecedented act of policy-making.”
City health officials have long touted the health benefits of flu shots for young children, especially those in daycare or preschool.
They argue the highest infection rate each year is in children younger than 5 years old and that some of these young children die.
The common side effects of soreness at the injection site, low fever and achiness are worth the benefits, they say.
They stress the influenza shot does not cause the flu and say parents concerned about mercury can ask for single-dose vaccines that do not contain trace amounts of thimerosal.
On very rare occasions, flu vaccines cause serious reactions.
According to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, there have been 94 claims of death attributed to flu vaccines across all age groups since 2005.
In their petition, the five moms said it wasn’t fair to deprive their kids of the “critical” development that occurs in daycare.
“If my daughter is excluded from Holy Cross because she does not receive the flu shot, which I absolutely refuse to give to her, she will be irreparably harmed because she will lose out on the social, cultural, education, skill and developmental gains she experiences while attending Holy Cross,” mom Michelle Carroll wrote in her affidavit.
The lawsuit claims mom Gabrielle Jakob may have to quit her job as a mental health consultant if her 2-year-old and 4-year-old daughters are barred from A 2 Z Happyland over the policy.
Jakob declined to comment when reached Monday by the Daily News.
Attempts to reach the other moms were not immediately successful.
“We should decide what is best for our children – not unelected individuals whom (we) can’t refuse to reelect or whom (we) don’t even know nor have any means to contact,” the moms said five similarly worded affidavits.
A rep for the city Law Department said, “We will review the specific claims one we are served with the lawsuit,” but “we are confident that the Board of Health has the authority to require flu vaccinations which protect children and the broader public from serious illness.”