Medical experts urge state legislature to require teachers to get a flu shot

As the school year gets underway, some medical experts are making a case to require Massachusetts teachers to receive the flu shot.

In anticipation of a possible COVID-19 surge, the state’s Department of Public Health is requiring all public school children aged 6 months and older to get the shot by the end of the year. However, when it comes to requiring the teachers who work in the state’s child care, preschool, K-12 and colleges and universities, there is a roadblock.

Some medical experts say this should not be the case and the mandate should extend to the teachers as well.

Dr. David Hooper, Chief of the Infection Control Unit at Mass General Hospital said fewer cases of the flu means less stress on a health care system that already has its hands full with COVID.

“I personally don’t have any problem with mandates,” he said. “I’m totally supportive of actions that increase our vaccination of the population and I would love for 95 percent of the people to get it except for the medical exemptions including teachers — yes including teachers.”

But state public health officials say they don’t have the authority to require teachers to get flu shots.

In a statement the DPH wrote:

“We strongly recommend that everyone over the age of 6 months get a flu vaccine every year. State law allows us to make school requirements for students, but not for others.”

The American Federation of Teachers said it does not have a position on this since there is no mandate — but the teachers union said:

“Especially during the COVID pandemic, it’s important that everyone get their flu vaccine this year. We urge all educators to get the flu vaccine, and encourage school districts to hold on-site flu vaccine clinics.”

Medical experts said all the mask-wearing, hand washing and social distancing we’ve been doing to fight COVID will also help in fighting off the flu.

(Copyright (c) 2020 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)