Written by Staff Writer
Monday night’s festivities in Times Square will take place amid one of the most high-profile health and safety debates in the nation: vaccinations.
CNN’s Sophie Tatum reports live from Manhattan.
And despite a last-minute get-together between New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the mayor of Los Angeles, Bill de Blasio on Tuesday was still vehemently against the flu vaccines, warning the nation to not trust them.
“Children shouldn’t be vaccinated for diseases they can’t be vaccinated against,” de Blasio said while campaigning for his re-election in New York. “No child should get any type of flu vaccine that won’t protect them.”
In a break from protocol, de Blasio’s Department of Health & Mental Hygiene announced on Friday that New York City would not distribute influenza vaccines at its official Times Square holiday block party, in order to avoid giving out shots to sick children who would miss their vaccinations and potentially spread the flu.
City health officials do not know where they will send the immunization freebies, CNN’s Martin Savidge reported last week.
Instead, the city plans to hand out anti-flu medication to those not vaccinated, as well as towels and hand sanitizers — along with water, cold weather gear and candy bars — at an event that will not be officially sanctioned by the city.
The city’s plan means New Yorkers are a step closer to New Year’s Eve and several billion dollars in festivities featuring techno dance beats, high-altitude balloons and Big Apple masks.
New York City health officials who deal with spreading germs, such as flu and other respiratory illnesses, said they are committed to following public health guidelines to prevent public and workplace illnesses.
“The health department recommends that the healthy population, including pregnant women, children, seniors and those with chronic conditions, receive the vaccine,” department spokeswoman Heather Taylor said.
But major health organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, argue against using flu immunizations as a way to spread the virus, saying the vaccine is only effective if it’s administered and consumed right away.
The California Department of Public Health’s website states the new policy is the state’s response to a request from city health officials to “improve public access to vaccine this flu season,” a move which coincides with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s call on New Yorkers to refuse to get a flu shot for the season.
“The flu shot is the best way to protect against the flu, and we’re asking families to give the vaccine a second look this season,” Garcetti said in a statement.
Garcetti’s request comes after a California study found that children exposed to the flu vaccine over an extended period of time have higher rates of depression, anxiety and epilepsy than those not exposed.
In New York, the world’s busiest travel hub, New Yorkers already opt not to get immunized against everything from the flu to measles in much the same way as they shun staying away from the flu shot.
But those who wish to be vaccinated at or after the holiday festivities that include a $100 entrance fee will do so but may not gain access to the festivities.