RI ACLU opposing flu requirement for preschoolers

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is opposing a proposed health department regulation that would require annual flu immunization for children up to age 5 and keep even those with medical exemptions out of school or day care during flu outbreaks.

The group calls the regulation a "serious intrusion" on families' ability to make their own health care decisions and says state intervention into such decisions "must be limited and rare."

Under the draft rule, annual influenza vaccination would be mandatory for all children between 6 months and 59 months before entering preschool or day care programs. Even students deemed exempt for medical or religious reasons would be required to stay home during flu outbreaks.

Spokesman Jim Palmer says the department is looking out for children's public health.

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