De Blasio Explains NYC Vaccine Mandate for Kids, 'Give Parents A Sense of Urgency' Amid Omicron

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said one of the main reasons he expanded the city's vaccine mandate to include children aged 5-11 is because he wanted to "give parents a sense of urgency" amid the spread of the Omicron variant.

"For the older kids—12 and up—it's over 80 percent now, vaccinated. So I think we're going to get there with the younger kids, but I'm trying to give parents a sense of urgency," De Blasio told CNN's New Day on Tuesday. "We're dealing with a new reality—this is not the fall. This is the winter We see COVID go up in the winter. Big holiday gatherings, Omicron, it's time to get vaccinated."

So far, seven cases of the highly transmissible Omicron variant have been detected in New York City.

"Parents, this is the moment—and I'm saying this as a parent myself, we need to get our children vaccinated," he added.

New York City currently requires people 12 and older to show proof that they have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in order to participate in indoor dining, indoor fitness and indoor entertainment.

On Monday, De Blasio announced that beginning December 14, the city's "Key to NYC" mandate would expand to include children aged 5 to 11.

The requirements will expand again starting December 27, when those 12 and older will be required to show proof that they are fully vaccinated with either two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Because they only became eligible for the vaccine last month, kids aged 5 to 11 will only need to show proof of at least one dose.

Bill De Blasio Kids Children Vaccine Mandate
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that children ages 5 to 11 would need to show proof of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in order to participate in a string of recreational indoor activities. D Blasio speaks with members of the crowd at the 95th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon Inflation on the Upper West Side on November 24, 2021 in New York City. Alexi Rosenfeld/WireImage

The city's case rates are currently highest among children aged 5 to 11, according to Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi.

As of Tuesday, at least 47.1 percent of children between the ages of 5 to 17 have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine and 36 percent are fully vaccinated.

Although the mayor is taking steps to increase the vaccination rates among children, he stopped short of mandating that students be vaccinated in order to attend school.

"We love it when people go to our restaurants or our movie theaters but those are obviously for fun, for enjoyment," De Blasio explained. "School is absolutely basic to a child and their development and their future. I don't want to hold it against a child if their parent doesn't take the time to get them vaccinated or for some reason, hesitates. I don't want that child to miss their education."

"Some kids went a year and a half without being in a classroom. That's an extraordinary setback for those kids. We can't let that keep happening," he said. "That's why I thought it was important. Every child welcome, but let's really push vaccinations."