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Hundreds protest student flu shot mandate in Massachusetts

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Hundreds of demonstrators, many not wearing masks, came to the Massachusetts State House on Sunday to oppose a new state rule that requires flu shots for school children, CBS Boston reports. Earlier this month, Republican Governor Charlie Baker announced what is believed to be the first such requirement in the country earlier this month.

A Massachusetts Department of Public Health spokesperson released a statement on Sunday that said the flu shot requirement is especially important because flu season will overlap with the coronavirus pandemic. Baker said the shots are needed to keep the healthcare system from getting overwhelmed.

Demonstrators protest the mandatory flu vaccination for students in Boston
Demonstrators cheer during a "No Mandatory Flu Shot Massachusetts" rally against Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker's order for mandatory influenza vaccinations for all students under the age of 30, outside the State House in Boston, August 30, 2020. BRIAN SNYDER / REUTERS

"As students return to in-person learning in the classroom, this vaccine requirement provides an additional and necessary layer of protection and safety," the statement said.

The Sunday rally began at about 10 a.m. on Beacon Hill, with hundreds gathering outside the statehouse while hoisting signs and chanting loudly.

"We think that's complete government overreach, and we're here to fight for all the kids," said one parent. "They shouldn't have to get the flu shot."

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health says the flu shot is "an important step to reduce flu-related illness and the overall impact of respiratory illness during the COVID-19 pandemic."

"I just think that we should be able to choose what goes into my son's body," said Jennifer Cordy, a parent from Beverly who attended the rally with her son. "And we should be able to say yes or say no and government should not choose that for us."

"I've been really stressed out about it, but I'm contemplating having to homeschool until hopefully this gets reversed. But I'm not going to pressure me into getting a flu shot. I don't get a flu shot, my kids don't get it," she continued.

Cordy's 10-year-old son Xavier added, "I don't like random things going into my body without my consent."

The only people excused from the flu shot are for medical reasons, religious reasons or children who are fully homeschooled. The deadline to get a flu shot for this school year is December 31.

A speaker at Sunday's demonstration called on the crowd to hug one another, The Boston Globe reported.

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