New York’s New School Flu Vaccine Mandate Is Put Into Effect

Eric Adams was sworn in as New York City’s new police commissioner on 1 January 2020, replacing Bill Bratton. This article first appeared on Skwawkbox.

On 10 October, Deputy Health Commissioner Tracey Vance unveiled the long-anticipated rules for the city’s mandate for all schoolchildren to receive an annual flu vaccine. Per a new law that goes into effect in the coming year, all 1.1 million public school students will be vaccinated or retain their right to attend their public school. Jennings next reported on Vaccine Today.

Advertising for vaccines has gone up in the wake of the new mandate, according to Vance, which she described as “five times greater than it’s ever been in terms of the public information campaign we’re putting out there.” She explained that the Department of Health expects a 100% enrollment boost at certain schools, and both testing and immunization rates should increase since vaccination rates of children at those schools have historically been below the city-wide average. Parents are also now required to swear in at their children’s upcoming vaccination appointments, an enforcement measure that Vance calls “interference with medical decisions.”

This voluntary vaccination policy has come under criticism. Advocates of mandated vaccine policies have consistently argued that parents should get vaccinated if they are healthy and the community as a whole is also unvaccinated. Others have said that kids who are not vaccinated have probably already passed a certain threshold of risk for the illness.

What does that threshold look like? In New York, it’s a grade 3 student or higher. This level is the threshold for a fever that is expected to last at least three days and causes “a high level of illness,” according to the New York State Department of Health. The threshold has increased to include an “intolerable” number of symptoms over two days, or symptoms where one in five of the children in your child’s class will be absent from school the next day. And if you don’t want to risk your child going to school for the rest of the year with a fever this season, as Jennings explained, you can schedule their vaccination appointment as a secondary requirement.

Jennings has also created a database of even more stringent vaccinations, like for children with cancer or for asthmatics. This database is different from the kids’ health clinics where antivax parents can get their kids vaccinated. Jennings said that she wants to remove that option, because “measles was around in St. Louis, Missouri, 35 years ago, and thank goodness we removed that option. If we did not, thank God we did. Measles killed a lot of people.”

She’s also helping families who have no insurance get vaccinated. She said this is all possible through “the outreach we’re doing, which I hope all of you saw through the last election.” Jennings said that the candidates all talked about the importance of science-based public policy, but she “caught hell” on social media. One Twitter user even started a company called “Votes Against Bill Bratton,” which she said is “just farcical.”

While Jennings defended the initiative she announced at the beginning of her tenure as the commissioner of the New York City Police Department, Jennings also acknowledged that “sticking to the science” was one of the things she did well during her eight years with Bratton. Jennings said that coming in the middle of the mandate cycle was a challenge, and that she “always found a way to respond.” She said she won’t try and “on my own” defy the resistance against mandatory vaccines this year, and she doesn’t plan to do so in the future.

Several additional clinic locations and vaccination schedules are listed here.

This article was originally published on Skwawkbox.

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