Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, New York City health commissioner, said the city has been following the lead of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in recommending vaccination for all children between 6 months and 18 years of age. The CDC changed the recommendation this year in response to research showing that children often spread influenza to family members and others, Frieden said.
"Young children and older adults are at higher risk of hospitalization if they get sick," Frieden said.
People 65 and older have the highest risk. More than 2,000 older New Yorkers died of influenza and pneumonia in 2006, and more than 13,000 were hospitalized, but infants and children are also at high risk of complications.
"Parents need to know that children under age 9 need to receive two doses if they're being vaccinated against influenza for the first time," Dr. Jane R. Zucker, New York City assistant commissioner for immunization said. "This is the best way to protect kids so make sure to get to the doctor early."