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Task Force Wants Parents Educated Before Opting Out Of Flu Shots

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Flu shot (credit: CBS)

Flu shot (credit: CBS)

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DENVER (CBS4) – The decision to vaccinate a child is a personal one, but in New York City the health board recently passed a mandatory flu shot plan for some children under six.

In Colorado, parents rank second in the nation when it come refusing immunizations, but a new plan may make opting out more difficult.

Some call it one final shot in the arm from outgoing New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The city’s Board of Health passed the mayor’s mandatory flu shot plan, meaning children under the age of six who go to city licensed day care and preschool must be vaccinated.

“We know that anywhere of 15 to 40 percent of kids will contract the flu. And somewhere between 1 to 2 percent of those will actually visit an emergency department because of this,” said Dr. Jay Varma, Deputy Commissioner for Disease Control.

Colorado doesn’t have mandatory vaccination and Jennifer and Ronnie Prine think it should stay that way.

“You know we would never say ‘don’t vaccinate,’ because that’s your choice, but it always needs to be the parents’ choice to do it,” Jennifer Prine said.

The Prines say their son Eric was born healthy in 1991. They say after getting his shots he suffered seizures. At 22, he doesn’t walk or talk.

“He’s 52 pounds, he doesn’t eat, we really don’t even know that he knows he’s here,” Ronnie Prine said.

“It’s unfortunate that there certainly are adverse events that occur, but we do know the benefits of vaccinations far outweigh the risks,” Dr. Rachel Herlihy with Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said.

Colorado allows exemption from required shots because of medical or religious reasons, or personal beliefs. Now a task force is recommending requiring education and counseling before approving the personal belief exemption.

“The purpose of education and counseling around vaccinations is to insure that parents have the appropriate information, the right information, to make an informed decision,” Herlihy said.

“I think it helps them make a good choice over whether or not they’re going to vaccinate their kids,” Jennifer Prine said

Colorado has no specific plans to carry out the education recommendation.

New York City will impose the mandatory flu shots in 30 days.

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