Massachusetts mandates flu vaccine for all students — with a few exemptions
New research suggests flu vaccine is working
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this year’s vaccine has cut the number of flu-related visits to the doctor by 45 percent.
Massachusetts this week mandated that all students ages 6 months and older receive the flu vaccine this year, in what state public health officials called “an important step to reduce flu-related illness and the overall impact of respiratory illness during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The requirement applies to all children 6 months of age or older who are attending child care, preschool or kindergarten in the Bay State, as well as K-12 students and those who are enrolled in Massachusetts’ various colleges and universities, including any international students.
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All students must be vaccinated by Dec. 31, state public health officials said in a news release.
All students must be vaccinated by Dec. 31, state public health officials said.
“Every year, thousands of people of all ages are affected by influenza, leading to many hospitalizations and deaths,” Dr. Larry Madoff, the medical director of the department’s Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences, said in a statement. “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.”
There are some exemptions to the mandate, however, such as for medical or religious reasons.
“Also exempted are K-12 students who are homeschooled and higher education students who are completely off-campus and engaged in remote learning only,” per the release.
“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.”
Some college and university students are also excused, though only if they “exclusively attend classes online and never visit campus in person.” But if any of those students attend a class or activity on campus — even once, officials warned — they must also be vaccinated by the end of the year.
“This new flu immunization requirement to enter school in January comes in addition to existing vaccine requirements for all those attending child care, preschool, K-12, and colleges and universities in Massachusetts. Elementary and secondary students in districts and schools that are using a remote education model are not exempt,” officials added.
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A second dose of the flu vaccine may be recommended for some children “depending on the child’s age and flu vaccination history,” but “the second dose is not required for school entry,” per the release.
All immunization requirements for the upcoming school year in Massachusetts can be found here.
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