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In order to mitigate the impact of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic as we approach the flu season, Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts has mandated that all students receive an influenza vaccine by the end of the calendar year (December 31, 2020). Massachusetts was the first state to issue such a mandate in the US. It is specifically intended for all children age six months or older attending Massachusetts childcare, pre-school, K-12, or post-secondary institutions. Exempt from this mandate are K-12 students who are homeschooled, post-secondary students who are engaged in remote learning, and those with medical or religious exemptions.
Last year was one of the most severe flu seasons in recent history in Massachusetts. This year, because the flu and COVID-19 have similar respiratory symptoms, the Massachusetts Department Public of Health feels it is important that all residents receive flu shots in order to preserve medical resources. Even K-12 students who are fully remote will be required to receive the vaccination, and though it cannot be required by state law, teachers and other adults are strongly recommended to get their shots as well.
Since this announcement in early August, many Massachusetts residents have expressed opposition to the mandate. In late August, hundreds of people, many without masks, gathered at the Massachusetts State House to protest the new requirement. They expressed dissatisfaction with what they saw as a government overreach. On the opposite side of the spectrum, others questioned why teachers are not required to receive flu shots too.
Like the rest of the state, students at LS will be expected to receive their flu shots by December 31, 2020 and submit a record of the administration to School Health Services. The Sudbury Board of Health and Health Department will be holding their first drive-through flu shot clinics for Sudbury residents during the month of October. Currently, all of the slots are filled, but there is the possibility of a final clinic in the last week of October pending supplies. For more information, visit the Sudbury Health Department Website.
For those who do not live in Sudbury or cannot secure a slot, most primary care providers and some pharmacies provide flu shots for no additional cost with health insurance. Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston will also be hosting its annual Central Flu Shot Clinic from September 22 to December 12.