NYC vaccine mandate includes children as young as 5

Children as young as 5 will be required to get vaccines in New York City to enter restaurants and other indoor venues, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday morning.

Current New York City COVID-19 rules also include at least one vaccine dose for indoor restaurant dining, entertainment venues, and fitness centers for anyone 12 and older. Under new mandates for indoor dining, entertainment, and gyms, one shot will be required for children ages 5 to 11, who are not covered by the current mandate, de Blasio said.

Children between 5 and 11 will also be required to get vaccinated to participate in high-risk extracurricular activities. These activities include sports, band, orchestra, and dance. 

Right now, about 127,000 New York City children between the ages of 5 and 11 are vaccinated, City Hall said. That represents only about 19% of children in that age group. 

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Rhena Lipps and her 11-year-old twin daughters support a vaccine mandate for children.

"We're on our way now to get our second vaccine," Lipps said. "I think you should do it for the safety of our children and the safety of our society."

The requirement for the initial vaccine dose will take effect on Dec. 14.

The mayor said he is concerned about the omicron variant, the cold weather, and people gathering for the holidays. 

"We have to assume it's going to be widespread," de Blasio said. "We have to assume it's going to give us a real challenge."

As always, there are mixed opinions from parents. 

"It helps keep everybody safe and it's the best chance we have of moving on from this virus," Michelle Anderson said.

Monica Sierra told FOX 5 NY, "I have a 10-year-old and an 8-year-old and they're fully vaccinated."

But other parents aren't on board.

"I got my vaccine and I got severe complications from it," Angelique Senter said. "So I definitely am not ready to do that for my kids and it's very sad that they'll have to miss out on a lot of things."

Some parents are afraid to get their young children vaccinated. 

But Dr. Matthew Harris, who is a pediatric emergency physician, said the vaccines are safe for kids ages 5 to 11.

"I fully support this," Harris, who is the medical director for Northwell Health's vaccine program, said. "I think it's the necessary next step in the ongoing fight towards the end of the pandemic."

The mandate does not require children to have the vaccine to attend classes in schools.

The announcement came as the mayor announced a vaccine mandate for all private-sector employers in the city.

"We in New York City have decided to use a preemptive strike to really do something bold to stop the further growth of COVID and the dangers it’s causing to all of us," de Blasio said. "All private-sector employers in New York City will be covered by this vaccine mandate as of Dec. 27."

The mayor expects the new mandate to survive any legal challenges.

New Yorkers aged 12 and older will be required to show proof of two vaccine doses, instead of one, except for those who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to dine indoors and attend events in theaters.

With The Associated Press.