BOSTON (NewsNation/WWLP) — Massachusetts public health officials announced on Wednesday the flu vaccine will be mandatory for all children six months of age or older who are attending child care, pre-school, kindergarten, K-12, colleges and universities.
According to the Department of Public Health, “the new vaccine requirement is a step to reduce flu-related illness and the overall impact of respiratory illness during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Students must receive a flu vaccine by December 31 for the 2020-2021 influenza season, unless a medical and/or religious exemption is provided.
Other exemptions include K-12 students who are home schooled and higher education students who are completely off-campus and engaged in remote learning only.
This new flu vaccine requirement to enter school in January is 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.
“Every year, thousands of people of all ages are affected by influenza, leading to many hospitalizations and deaths,” said Dr. Larry Madoff, Medical Director, Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences. “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 Department of Public Health states that all children at least six months old who attend child care or preschool must be immunized in accordance with the ACIP Recommended Immunization Schedule.
For more information about state immunization requirements for the upcoming school year, see the complete guidelines below.