BOSTON (CBS) -- Students in Massachusetts are no longer required to get a flu shut in order to attend school. The Department of Public Health said Friday it has removed the vaccine mandate for students, which was announced last summer as "an important part" of keeping hospitalizations down amid the coronavirus pandemic.
DPH cited a mild flu season and a desire to focus on administering coronavirus vaccines in its decision to drop the requirement.
"Preliminary data show that this has been a mild flu season to date, presumably as people have received their seasonal flu vaccine and have been adhering to mask-wearing and social distancing due to COVID-19," DPH said in a statement. "Given the intensive Commonwealth-wide efforts regarding COVID-19 vaccination, DPH wants to alleviate the burden to obtain flu vaccination and focus on continuing our COVID-19 vaccination efforts."
Massachusetts had been the first state to require the flu shot for K-12 and college students.
Everyone 6 months or older in Massachusetts child care, pre-school, kindergarten, K-12, colleges and universities was required to get their vaccine by the end of February after the state extended the deadline in December. Some parents had protested the new mandate.
The department continues to "strongly recommend" that everyone 6 months and older gets a seasonal flu vaccine every year. About 81% of K-12 students in Massachusetts got a flu vaccine last year.
for more features.