Five mothers are suing New York City over its mandate requiring students younger than 5 to receive the flu vaccine, Fox 5 NY reported. The mothers argue the bill is illegal because the Health Department rather than state lawmakers passed it, and they do not want their children to receive the vaccine.

Passed during Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration, the vaccine requirement went into effect this flu season. The flu is extremely contagious and the most deadly among children age 5 and younger, Dr. Greg Yapalater, a pediatrician in NYC, told fox5ny.com. Each year, scientists use research to try to predict the specific strains that will circulate in the next flu season and make a vaccine accordingly. Studies show getting the flu vaccine can significantly reduce a person’s chance of getting the flu.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended since February 2010 that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine every season to protect against infection. Individuals who are young, elderly and immunosuppressed are the most likely to suffer severe flu symptoms, which can be life threatening.

Attorney Aaron Siri, who represents the mothers in NYC who are disputing the city’s vaccine requirement, argues that getting vaccinated is a personal choice. He said the parents don’t have any issues with the state’s other vaccine requirements but don’t agree with the one for the flu because it does not apply to everyone in the state, according to fox5ny.com.

The city released a statement regarding the lawsuit: "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. We will review the specific claims once we are served with the lawsuit."

With its new rule, New York City follows New Jersey and Connecticut, the only two U.S. states that require a flu vaccine for children between 6 months and 5 years old.

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