With flu season just around the corner and COVID-19 showing no signs of letting up in the United States, health officials in Massachusetts are not taking any chances.
The Department of Public Health announced Wednesday that all students who attend school in Massachusetts must receive a flu vaccine.
“Students will be expected to have received a flu vaccine by December 31, 2020 for the 2020-2021 influenza season, unless either a medical or religious exemption is provided,” public health officials said in a statement.
Officials hope that requiring all those enrolled in child care through higher education will reduce the number of people who contract the flu, which typically becomes active in the fall and winter.
They also hope it will reduce the number of respiratory illnesses, of which COVID-19 is, this winter.
“Every year, thousands of people of all ages are affected by influenza, leading to many hospitalizations and deaths,” Dr. Larry Madoff, Medical Director, DPH’s Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences, said.
The CDC estimated that during the 2018-2019 flu season, 34,200 people died from the flu.
“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.”
Of course there has been immediate reaction from those who this new requirements affects.
Some wonder if educators will be required to get the vaccine, while others have expressed their opposition.
“This should be illegal. You can’t force someone to take something they don’t want in their body wtf,” one person wrote online.
“Taking freedoms away a little at a time, time to stand up for our freedoms. My kids never had a flu shot in school we are all alive,” another concerned citizen said.
According to officials students who are in K-12 and higher education who are off-campus and engaged entirely in remote learning will be exempt.
More details can be found here.
What do you think? Is it a good idea for states or anyone to require flu vaccines this year, especially given that we’re in the middle of a pandemic?
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