NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York City’s Health Department wants more children under 5 to get the flu vaccine.

Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley says 65 percent of children aged 6 to 59 months received an influenza vaccination in the past year.

That’s up from 59 percent in the 2011-12 flu season but well below the national goal of 80 percent.

“Parents may not think of the flu as being as serious as it is,” Dr. Jane Zucker with the Health Department told 1010 WINS. “But the fact that it can be deadly in children, the fact that it can lead to hospitalization I don’t think is as widely known as we would like.”

The Health Department says 169 children died from flu-related complications during the 2012-13 flu season in the U.S. That includes four in New York City.

In December, the Board of Health voted unanimously in favor of a mandatory flu vaccine for children under 6 years old who go to preschool or day care in New York City.

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