Citing the importance of reducing influenza-related illness and the overall impact of respiratory illness during the COVID-19 pandemic, state public health officials in Massachusetts announced on Aug. 19 that flu vaccination would be required for all children 6 months of age or older who attend school in the state. The requirement includes those enrolled in child care, pre-school, kindergarten, K-12 schools, and colleges and universities. Students are expected to have received a flu vaccine by Dec. 31, 2020, for the 2020-2021 flu season, unless either a medical or religious exemption has been provided, according to a state press release. Homeschooled students are also exempt.
The requirement makes Massachusetts the first state in the U.S. to make flu vaccination mandatory for all students and has drawn praise from public health advocates nationally. Recent news reports, including from ABC News, described a protest held Aug. 30 in Boston by demonstrators opposed to the mandate. Resources to help providers communicate with patients and families about the importance of vaccination are available through the PIDS Vaccine Education Program, which includes online educational modules designed to improve vaccine knowledge and confidence when counseling parents about immunizing their children.