The state of Massachusetts has ordered that children 6 months of age or older must obtain a flu vaccine by the end of December to attend any daycare, school or college in the state starting in January.
The August 20 announcement was met with protest on Sunday. Hundreds held a protest in Boston, demanding the state rescind the order.
"They are forcing to inject something into our child and we don't agree with it,” protester Mike Megna told WBZ.
"I've been really stressed out about it. I am thinking of having home schooling until this gets reversed, but I am not going to let them pressure me to get the flu shot,” Jennifer Cordy also told WBZ. Cordy is the mother of 10-year-old student Xavier Cordy.
But officials say that the flu vaccine is an important way for public health officials to reduce hospitalizations and deaths, even though the vaccine won’t provide protection from the coronavirus.
“Every year, thousands of people of all ages are affected by influenza, leading to many hospitalizations and deaths,” said Dr. Larry Madoff, a medical director with the state's Department of Public Health. “It is more important now than ever to get a flu vaccine because flu symptoms are very similar to those of COVID-19 and preventing the flu will save lives and preserve healthcare resources.”
The state is providing exemptions for medical or religious based reasons. Massachusetts is also exempting K-12 homeschoolers as well as college students who are fully off campus and do not attend in-person classes. There is not an exemption for K-12 students who are partaking in virtual learning through their school.