New York City schools can now force students to get a flu shot.
A new city-wide mandate requires children between six months and five years of age to obtain a flu vaccine between July 1 and December 31 each year. Passed in the final days of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration, the rule applies to more than 150,000 children in the Big Apple.
The mandate goes into effect this year. However, since the rule is not a state law, schools are not legally bound to exclude children without a flu vaccine. Starting in 2016, though, the city will fine schools with noncompliant students between $200 and $2,000.
Already, the requirement has increased vaccination rates among the city’s young from 62.5 percent to 67 percent, as of early December.
The purpose of the rule is to protect young children, a demographic at greater risk of complications from the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Flu is more dangerous than the common cold for children.” The CDC has reported that 15 children have died so far from flu complications. Last year, over 100 children died from the flu.
In a document addressed to concerned parents, the city of New York noted that as many as 40 percent of all children under five years of age will come down with the flu this year.
Flu vaccines are safe and effective for most people, so this mandate could help many children.
But even common vaccines — like the flu shot — have rare but serious side effects.
One possible reaction is Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration (SIRVA). This condition results in damage to the tendons and ligaments in a patient’s shoulder. Folks suffering from SIRVA generally experience pain within 24 hours of vaccination. Symptoms include a limited range of motion in the shoulder, weakness, and tenderness. Sometimes surgery is required to correct the damage.
SIRVA can be caused by several factors. For example, if a healthcare worker injects the needle at the wrong angle or too high up on a patient’s shoulder SIRVA can result. A patient who is underweight or has low body mass can also experience SIRVA if the needle over-penetrates the deltoid muscle.
As more school children receive the flu vaccine, it is important for doctors to consider SIRVA as a possible reason for shoulder pain. A recent report from the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine found that the number of SIRVA cases is “likely underreported.” Since children weigh very little, they could be more prone to SIRVA.
Fortunately there is help for those who suffer from SIRVA or any other negative reaction from a vaccine.
In 1988, the federal government created the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). The VICP covers many common vaccines, including tetanus, measles, and the seasonal flu shot.
For the most up-to-date list, check out the vaccine injury compensation table on the website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The VICP has helped thousands of individuals since its creation.
Navigating the VICP is complicated, both legally and medically. Therefore, anyone seeking compensation should seek the counsel of an attorney.
As more children receive flu shots in New York City, it’s important parents remember that the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is there to help should an adverse reaction occur.
If you have suffered from a negative shot reaction, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, shoulder pain, or any other illness subsequent to receiving a vaccination, please contact an attorney today. Vaccine attorney Leah Durant is available to provide you with a free telephone consultation. This vaccine attorney is a seasoned litigator whose practice is dedicated to serving those injured by vaccines.
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