It is more important now than ever to get a flu vaccine because flu symptoms are very similar to those of COVID-19 and now it's required in Massachusetts if you're a student.

According to a news item from Western Mass News, all students at schools, colleges, and child care centers are now being required to get a flu shot.

The Mass. Department of Public Health announced Wednesday that all children six months of age and older, attending any of the following in Massachusetts, will be expected to get the flu vaccine by December 31, 2020.

  • Child care centers
  • Pre-schools
  • Kindergarten
  • K-12 grade school
  • Colleges
  • Universities

Also important to keep in mind, elementary and secondary students in schools and districts that are using a remote learning model are not exempt.

Dr. Larry Madoff, medical director of the Mass. DPH Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences, said, "Every year, thousands of people of all ages are affected by influenza, leading to many hospitalizations and deaths...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."

The Mass Department of Public Health noted that exemptions are allowed for the following:

  • K-12 students who are homeschooled
  • College and university students who are off-campus and only doing remote learning
  • Religious or medical exemption

For those entering schools in January, this requirement is in addition to existing vaccine requirements for those attending preschool, child care, K-12, colleges, and universities.

In addition, those entering school between January 1 and March 31 must have a flu vaccine for the current flu season before being allowed into school.

Children who are at least six months, who attend a preschool or child care, also must be immunized with the ACIP recommended schedule.

For more on the story, visit Western Mass News' website here.

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