Hundreds protest flu vaccine mandate at Massachusetts State House rally
BOSTON, M.A. (WCVB) – Hundreds rallied outside the Massachusetts State House on Sunday to protest the state’s mandate for all of the Commonwealth’s students to receive a flu shot by the end of the year.
A sizable crowd had gathered on Beacon Street by 10 a.m.
People who were scheduled to speak at the protest told NewsCenter 5’s Josh Brogadir that they do not want to be known as “anti-vaccine,” but they do want to be able to make that decision for their children on their own.
On Aug. 19, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced that flu shots will now be required for all students in the state’s schools, from child care through colleges. Students older than six months will have to be vaccinated by Dec. 31, unless either a medical or religious exemption is provided.
Gov. Charlie Baker said that with tens of thousands of students returning to Massachusetts schools — even though many of them are starting the academic year remotely — and concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, that the flu vaccine is the safest way to help protect students.
“There’s evidence, for example, that having influenza may predispose (someone) to getting COVID-19,” said Dr. Robert Finberg, an infectious disease specialist at UMass Memorial Health Care. “In addition, having two viruses is much worse than having one.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 80% of children receive a flu vaccine each year.