NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City preschoolers are now required to have a flu shot or, for the first time, could be barred from city-licensed day care centers and preschools.

Dr. Daniel Egan at the emergency room of St. Luke’s Hospital told WCBS 880’s Jim Smith the vaccine is the No. 1 defense.

“The flu shot is probably the most important thing people can do to prevent the flu,” Egan said.

In adopting the regulation, the city is not alone. New Jersey and Connecticut have similar measures in place.

Still, the flu is widespread in 36 states. A common strain of the virus mutated after this year’s vaccine was produced.

Egan said this is the time of the year the virus starts to spread.

“Like most winter seasons, we start to see a surge in the number of patients who are coming into the emergency room with symptoms consistent with flu,” he said.

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