Massachusetts first state to make flu shot mandatory for students

Massachusetts has made the influenza vaccine mandatory for all students in the state, becoming the first U.S. state to make the flu vaccine a requirement for children older than 5 years, CNN reports.

All children, ages 6 months or older, who are attending Massachusetts child care, preschool, kindergarten through 12th grade and colleges and universities, will be required to get the flu vaccine unless a medical or religious exemption is provided, the new rule states. Students who are homeschooled and higher education students who are participating in remote learning only also will be exempt from the new rule.

Students in the state are required to get the vaccine by Dec. 31.

The new rule aims to reduce flu-related illness and​ blunt the effects of respiratory illness during the COVID-19 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," said Larry Madoff, MD, medical director of the health department's bureau of infectious disease and laboratory sciences.

More articles on public health:
US coronavirus death rates by state: Aug. 21
Number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, state by state: Aug. 21
20 states where COVID-19 is spreading fastest, slowest: Aug. 21


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