Hundreds rallied outside the Massachusetts State House on Sunday to protest the state’s mandate for all of the Commonwealth’s students to receive a flu shot by the end of the year.A sizable crowd had gathered on Beacon Street by 10 a.m.People who were scheduled to speak at the protest told NewsCenter 5’s Josh Brogadir that they do not want to be known as “anti-vaccine,” but they do want to be able to make that decision for their children on their own.”The flu vaccine should not be a mandate. It should be a choice,” said protester Jessica Marchant.On Aug. 19, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced that flu shots will now be required for all students in the state’s schools, from child care through colleges. Students older than six months will have to be vaccinated by Dec. 31, unless either a medical or religious exemption is provided.”I just feel like they were taking advantage of the moment, the opportunity of everyone being so fearful,” said protester Mike Megna.”I think parents are vulnerable right now. They need their kids to go to school and they backed us into a corner,” said fellow protester Taryn Proulx. “We feel like we have to just comply or rearrange our whole lives and homeschool our children.” Gov. Charlie Baker said that with tens of thousands of students returning to Massachusetts schools — even though many of them are starting the academic year remotely — and concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, that the flu vaccine is the safest way to help protect students.”There’s evidence, for example, that having influenza may predispose (someone) to getting COVID-19,” said Dr. Robert Finberg, an infectious disease specialist at UMass Memorial Health Care. “In addition, having two viruses is much worse than having one.””We want to make sure our children, whose educations have already been disrupted so much this year, have every opportunity to learn and stay in the classroom,” said Dr. Brian Chow, an infectious disease physician at Tufts Medical Center.Chow says students who are vaccinated for influenza miss fewer days of school than those who are not and that it is an incredibly safe vaccine.According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 80% of children receive a flu vaccine each year.

Hundreds rallied outside the Massachusetts State House on Sunday to protest the state’s mandate for all of the Commonwealth’s students to receive a flu shot by the end of the year.

A sizable crowd had gathered on Beacon Street by 10 a.m.

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People who were scheduled to speak at the protest told NewsCenter 5’s Josh Brogadir that they do not want to be known as “anti-vaccine,” but they do want to be able to make that decision for their children on their own.

“The flu vaccine should not be a mandate. It should be a choice,” said protester Jessica Marchant.

On Aug. 19, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced that flu shots will now be required for all students in the state’s schools, from child care through colleges. Students older than six months will have to be vaccinated by Dec. 31, unless either a medical or religious exemption is provided.

“I just feel like they were taking advantage of the moment, the opportunity of everyone being so fearful,” said protester Mike Megna.

“I think parents are vulnerable right now. They need their kids to go to school and they backed us into a corner,” said fellow protester Taryn Proulx. “We feel like we have to just comply or rearrange our whole lives and homeschool our children.”

Gov. Charlie Baker said that with tens of thousands of students returning to Massachusetts schools — even though many of them are starting the academic year remotely — and concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, that the flu vaccine is the safest way to help protect students.

“There’s evidence, for example, that having influenza may predispose (someone) to getting COVID-19,” said Dr. Robert Finberg, an infectious disease specialist at UMass Memorial Health Care. “In addition, having two viruses is much worse than having one.”

“We want to make sure our children, whose educations have already been disrupted so much this year, have every opportunity to learn and stay in the classroom,” said Dr. Brian Chow, an infectious disease physician at Tufts Medical Center.

Chow says students who are vaccinated for influenza miss fewer days of school than those who are not and that it is an incredibly safe vaccine.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 80% of children receive a flu vaccine each year.

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