August 30, 2020 | By Nicholas Reimann | Forbes |
“A crowd of hundreds gathered outside the Massachusetts State House on Sunday, where they voiced opposition to a new requirement for all students in Massachusetts schools to receive a flu vaccine by the end of the year.
The mandate was announced on Aug. 19, and will require all students over the age of six months to get vaccinated for the flu by Dec. 31.
Gov. Charlie Baker (R) has said the vaccine requirement will protect students from a potential two-fold outbreak while the coronavirus pandemic remains.
There is serious concern among health experts about the spread of seasonal flu in the fall, and the potential toll that could take on health care systems that are already stretched thin.
According to WCVB-TV, many at the protest did not identify as part of the “anti-vaccine” movement, saying their opposition was to the mandate requiring a flu shot—not the shot itself.
Sunday’s event was organized by the group “No Mandatory Flu Shot MA and Oppose Overreach – Health Choice 4 Action MA.”
Exemptions to the vaccine requirement can be made for medical or religious reasons.
“If you want to go get the flu shot, go get the flu shot, but do not use our children as pawns,” said Candice Edwards, who organized the rally. “You don’t coerce parents and tell them that their children in order to get an education that they have to go and get a flu shot. We will not comply.”
Seasonal flu patients typically take up large amounts of space in ICUs across the U.S., and death tolls number each year in the tens of thousands. Public health officials, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, are optimistic an effective coronavirus vaccine can be developed by the end of the year, but it remains to be seen how long it would take to administer the vaccine to large amounts of the population.
Flu cases dropped dramatically in the southern hemisphere during their winter months—summer months in the northern half of the world—compared to years in the past. Health experts say that is likely a combination of social distancing measures and people avoiding professional medical care when dealing with mild illnesses.
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW
Because of the decline in cases in the southern hemisphere, medical researchers don’t have a grasp on what a widespread seasonal flu outbreak might look like during cooler months during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s also very unclear whether the southern hemisphere’s flu decline will be replicated in the northern hemisphere.”