State public health officials announced that the flu shot will now be required for all children six months of age or older who will attend Massachusetts child care, pre-school, kindergarten and K-12, as well as colleges and universities.
The new requirement is intended to reduce flu-related illness and ?the overall impact of respiratory illness during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The deadline to get the virus will be the final in 2020. New students entering between January 1 and March 31 must have received a dose of vaccine for the current flu season before entry.
Certain exemptions will be allowed such as medical or religious exemptions as well as students who are homeschooled or higher education students who are completely off-campus and using remote means.
Elementary and secondary students in districts and schools that are using a remote education model are not exempt.
“Every year, thousands of people of all ages are affected by influenza, leading to many hospitalizations and deaths,” said Dr. Larry Madoff, Medical Director, DPH’s Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences.
“It is more important now than ever to get a flu vaccine because flu symptoms are very similar to those of COVID-19,” he continued. “Preventing the flu will save lives and preserve healthcare resources.”