Hundreds of parents and children gathered in Massachusetts on Sunday to protest the state’s new flu demand for all students.
The demonstration took place in front of the Massachusetts State House in Boston with protesters holding signs reading “My child, my choice” and “Body autonomy is a human right.”
“No forced shots” was also written in chalk in front of the building.
Protesters have called on Republican Gov. Charlie Baker to lift a state mandate on Aug. 19 that requires students ages 6 and older to get the flu vaccine by Dec. 31 for that school year, unless medical or religious release is provided.
The mandate, which is considered to be the first in the country, includes students in childcare, preschool, kindergarten and K-1
Officials fear the flu season and the coronavirus pandemic will overwhelm the health care system, according to the Boston Globe.
“I hope people understand that this is an important part of the way we continue to fight [corona]a virus here in Massachusetts, “Baker said Aug. 20.” The more people who get the flu don’t get the flu and end up in the emergency room. “
Some of the parents of the protest said they did not want to be labeled as an anti-vaccine, but did not agree with the new rule.
“The flu vaccine doesn’t have to be a mandate,” Jessica Marchant told WCVB 5. “It has to be a choice.”
Tarin Proulks told the local station that our country “propped up in the corner” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think parents are vulnerable right now,” she said. “We feel we just have to comply or rearrange our whole lives and educate our children at home.”
Children and students from higher education who are completely outside the university and study remotely are also exempt.
Protest organizers said the requirements for social distancing would apply to the rally, but many of the protesters were without masks, and at one point he called on the crowd to embrace.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting the flu every 6 months or more every year until the end of October.
Health experts say protection against the flu can also help prevent coronavirus.
“There is evidence, for example, that the presence of influenza may predispose (someone) to receiving COVID-19,” Dr. Robert Finberg, an infectious disease specialist at UMass Memorial Health Care, told WCVB. “Besides, having two viruses is much worse than having one.”
A spokesman for the health department issued a statement Sunday stressing the importance of the vaccine, given that the flu season will overlap with the coronavirus crisis.
“As students return to personal learning in the classroom, this vaccine requirement provides an additional and necessary layer of protection and safety,” the statement said.