Published May 23, 2016
I feel sorry for many doctors. I really do. It must be a terrible thing to live and work in...
— William Wilberforce
The flu shot might be the one to drive home the fallacy of trying to force thinking parents to take part in something that goes against their common sense. “Don’t tell us how to raise our children,” is what more parents are saying to doctors and public health officials trying to take their parental rights away when it comes to making health care choices for their children. From a report in the New York Post1 it appears that a sneaky new flu shot mandate in New York City’s public school system is shedding a bright light on that issue.
Scheduled to be enforced beginning in January of 2016, the New York City Health Department will require that every child under age five who attends a city school or daycare center must receive either an injectable, inactivated flu vaccine or the live-virus nasal spray version every year. Schools and child care programs that do not comply will be hit with hefty fines of up to $2,000, and could lose their licenses. Understandably, schools are press parents hard to get children vaccinated.
Parents like Staten Island resident Marialaina Mezzasalma are crying foul. “I’m not anti-vaccination, but I don’t feel anybody should tell me what to do with my children,” she said.1
Her sentiment is echoed by other parents in the New York area, who have taken actions such as telling schools their children are on a ‘waiting list for the shot’ to temporarily pulling their small children out of the public school system. Some New York parents have started a “Change.org” petition to try to stop the mandate, which has been more of a “recommendation” than a mandate in New York City for the last two years.1
At issue for most of these parents is that the flu shot has been shown to be not only largely ineffective, but also dangerous for some children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) itself admitted that last year’s flu vaccine was effective in only 23% of cases,2 and the truth is that it has not been well studied in small children.
Several healthy children reportedly died after receiving flu shots during the 2014-2015 flu seasons3 and, while the CDC states that many more children are at risk from complications of influenza itself,4 the New York mandate makes it starkly obvious that the fight is not so much over which parents identify themselves as “anti-vaxxers” but over the right of parents to make medical decisions for their children without interference from public health officials and doctors carrying out government vaccine policy. Yet, these parents defending parental rights risk being labeled as anti-vaccine by those very authorities, as is anyone who refuses to strictly follow the federal vaccine schedule.
If public health officials wish to continue to force vaccination on children even when their parents are uncomfortable with being blocked from having any say in that decision, the day may not be far off when the so-called anti-vaxxers could hold a majority opinion on this issue. Speaking for parents all over the country, Veronica Andrade of Brooklyn simply said, “My kids, my choice.”1
1 Linge MK. Parents Refuse to Give Kids Flu Shots, Swear They’re Not Anti-Vaccine. New York Post. Nov. 15, 2015.
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Early Estimates of Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness—United States, January 2015 Weekly. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Jan. 16, 2015.
3 Piper-Terry M. Healthy Children & Adults Vaccinated with Flu Shot are Dying. VaxTruth Jan. 4, 2015.
4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children, the Flu, and the Flu Vaccine. CDC.gov.