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Flu shots now required for most Massachusetts students, from pre-school to graduate school; home-schoolers exempt

The state Department of Public Health announced today that it is now requiring all students and participants in pre-K programs to get a flu shot by Dec. 31 - as part of an effort to reduce "flu-related illness and ​the overall impact of respiratory illness during the COVID-19 pandemic."

Students will be expected to have received a flu vaccine by December 31, 2020 for the 2020-2021 influenza season, unless either a medical or religious exemption is provided. Also exempted are K-12 students who are homeschooled and higher education students who are completely off-campus and engaged in remote learning only.

Elementary and secondary students who are enrolled in remote-learning programs, however, are not exempt, DPH says, adding that college students who come here on exchange programs or who attend an actual, physical class, or participate in any campus activities, even if just once, must also get a shot.

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Comments

Why not an earlier deadline, maybe mid-November?

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Perhaps, but with all the constraints on gathering and occupancy in clinics and pharmacies, and more spreading out of appointments at doctor's offices - that extra month might be needed to accommodate that many people (and preserve them having their own choice)

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... they used to bring immunization to the schools. I remember nurses wheeling carts into classrooms covered with trays of small paper cups containing the drinkable Sabin polio vaccine & also receiving shots for flu. Don’t know whether the state or the federal government sponsored this, but given the seriousness of the situation, wouldn’t something similar make sense now? Universities with their infirmaries are already set up to do something similar. They could even dig into their endowments and buy the serum themselves, then offer it for free.

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There are a lot of reasons that bringing shots to students in class would likely not be legal or feasible. First there are privacy reasons - everyone would know which kids were not getting shots (whether for medical or religious reasons). Second, there are a few different types of flu vaccine with some people needing specialized ones due to allergies or other concerns. I doubt schools would want to deal with liability issues if they accidentally give a student the wrong shot.

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As long as parents consent to it in writing, it would be legal and expedient to give flu vaccines in school. It's already been done in many BPS schools in the recent past. You would, of course, need to guard privacy issues..

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Thimerosal was a common antiseptic in multi dose vaccines and jet injectors a common way to mass vaccinate in places like schools. Both fell out of favor around the same time (late 1990s).

I wonder if this help put a halt to widespread school vaccination programs? Though as others noted, some schools still do (my son's included).

Fun fact, the flu vaccine (multidose varieties) is the only routine childhood vaccine that still contains thimerosal in the US!

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I think I remember the jet injectors. Thing about the size of a power drill, right?

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Thimerisol is a preservative that is vastly less risky to kids than getting the flu or other vaccine preventable illness.

It is a common trope of antivaxxer "sounds like science" to deep throat this particular flavor of stupid by gargling the word in their larynges on a repetitive basis.

I'm hoping that good schools put some sense into your kids before they are permanently damaged by your foolishness and inability to evaluate risk.

Idiocy like this has resulted in reduced transport and storage life for vaccines, leading to lots of dead kids in the developing world. Pat yourself on the back for "saving the children".

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Is offered in at least one suburb, obviously only for those students whose parents opt in and sign consent form. It is offered to us every year.

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In Worcester, you can get your flu shot at school through local public health agencies. You can also get dental checkups and sealants. I'm guessing there are other communities in MA that provide the same offerings.

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The manufacturers are churning out additional doses, but it may not be enough if there are numerous states mandating the vaccine.

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The Venn diagram of kids that are homeschooled and the kids that won’t get the flu shot is a Maynard James Keehan side band, right?

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the loony anti-vaxxer lawsuits

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They can waste their time and money all they want, but this is a matter of settled law.

There are already requirements for multiple vaccines. This is just an add on.

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There's a huge number of the kids' parents who never had a flu shot and won't end up getting one. Will that affect anything with the mandate?

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In the past, I've been so-so on bothering to get a flu vaccine. I'm not opposed to it, I just haven't always made it a priority.

But if I bring my kids in, you can bet I'll get one at the same time. And now I've got to bring my kids in, so I'll surely get one too.

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There are regulations for kids that don't apply to adults, and public health regulations for public places like schools that don't apply to private residences. How is this different?

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If all the kids and staff are immunized, they are unlikely to catch flu from a parent and even less likely to spread the flu to the immunized school population. Not impossible, but vanishingly small.

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This isn't just about kids not getting the flu, it's about adult populations.

How many kids get the flu at school and bring it home to 1 or more parents, who might even spread it along at work? Vaccinating all kids doesn't create herd immunity, but it will certainly reduce the R0 value.

In addition to this, I'd like to see the Baker administration be more proactive about flu shots for adult populations. Can they be issued on commuter rail? At places with large number of employees working on-site? At places that serve the most vulnerable?

We're going after kids because they're an easy population to wrangle. What about other populations for which we can efficiently give a jab in the arm?

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This has been known for over a century, and better understood in the last couple of decades.

The most elegant studies for vaccination of school kids are the Hutterite Studies.

Hutterites are a religious sect primarily in Canada and the Northern US. Their communities are ethnically homogeneous and adhere to similar lifestyles, are agrarian and rural, and are not closed off from the world.

Researchers in Canada recruited communities for a multi-year influenza vaccine study where they selected which community's school kids would be vaccinated in a given study year. They then examined the mortality and health care utilization for those communities. Because the communities are very similar in many ways, they were able to compare the outcomes in vaccinated versus unvaccinated communities.

The results were that communities where kids were vaccinated had far fewer cases of the flu and far fewer deaths among elders and other members of the community who could not be vaccinated. In short: vaccinating school kids prevented epidemics from sweeping the community as a whole.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20215608/

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A permanent requirement. New normal
should have more flu prevention.

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Get rid of the stupid religious exemption. Fairy tales shouldn’t get priority over public health.

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for me and my kids if the flu shot had better effectiveness. According to the CDC, over the last 10 years, the flu shot was less than 50% effective all but two years. One year it was only 19% effective! Not a good track record.

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Also likely to only be partially effective, very likely to be required to participate in society, thankfully

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According to the CDC, over the last 10 years, the flu shot was less than 50% effective all but two years. One year it was only 19% effective! Not a good track record.

A 50% effective vaccine, if everyone or nearly everyone were to get it, would knock your chances of getting the disease down into very tiny numbers.

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Influenza is extremely complex. The vaccine is usually highly effective against the exact strains of flu predicted to be a problem a year before the next flu season, which is unfortunately when such decisions have to be made to have it ready to administer to people. Unfortunately, predictions do not always become reality; the only prediction that hasn't failed is that the flu will make an appearance next year.

Get your flu shot.

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You *don't* want to reduce you chances of getting the flu by half? Or even by 19%?

Why? The flu sucks.

There is literally no reason not to get a flu shot. It *might* prevent you from getting the flu.

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What's the downside? It's either completely free or your insurance will pay for it. Anything that reduces the likelihood of catching flu by 50% is worth doing. It may also reduce the severity of your flu if you *do* catch it.

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Sounds a hell of a lot better than 0%.

Also, I recall something about there being partial immunity to that strain in subsequent years. Remember that there are multiple strains going around. A big part of why the shot isn't closer to 100% effective is that they predict wrong about which strains will hit where.

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If I had a 50% chance of winning on a lottery ticket I'd actually buy one.

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If someone told you that you had a high risk of something bad happening, but there was something that you could do to reduce that by half ...

Do you bother wearing your seatbelt, either?

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Wouldn't the mask mandate already significantly decrease the chance of a bad flu season? If that's the case, why is it still necessary to mandate the flu vaccine, especially if it'll be hard to enforce?

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When worn correctly, masks reduce transmission rather than eliminate it. And they're not always worn correctly.

When administered correctly, flu shots reduce the likelihood of getting flu rather than eliminate it.

Since the two items are almost certainly independent, we know that whatever masks would have done, flu shots will cut that transmission in half. Given that the initial growth of infected is exponential, reducing transmission by 1/2 reduces the total infected by well more than 1/2.

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Flu virus has probably been better studied with masks than SARS-CoV-2 has.

There was a seminal 2013 paper that was part of the round up of information leading to mask recommendations for SARS-CoV-2.

That's due in part because phlying phlegm is phlying phlegm.

More here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/04/200403132345.htm

But the reason that this is being mandated has a lot to do with the study and body of scientific evidence noted above: school kids are known community cootie breeders

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As a person who tries to avoid anything that leads to the death of animals, I'll pass on anything with gelatin in it.

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The flu shot requirement will remain in place even after the coronavirus pandemic, Sudders said. The guidance stipulates the flu shot requirement is permanent.

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