Massachusetts mandates flu vaccination for most students

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," the Department of Public Health said.

Updated: August 20, 2020 - 1:59pm

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Most students in Massachusetts will now be required to receive flu vaccinations, state health officials announced Wednesday.

According to a Department of Health press release, the "influenza immunization will be required for all children 6 months of age or older who are attending Massachusetts child care, pre-school, kindergarten, K-12, and colleges and universities." 

College students who are fully remote are exempt from the mandate, as are homeschooled students.

"For older students, the flu vaccine requirement applies to all full-time undergraduate and graduate students under 30 years of age and all full- and part-time health science students," the press release says.

"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," the release notes. "This new flu immunization 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."

Department of Public Health Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences Medical Director Dr. Larry Madoff emphasized the importance of receiving the flu vaccine amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“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,” he said in a statement. 

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