HCN News & Notes

State Leaders Urge Massachusetts Residents to Get Flu Vaccine

BOSTON — The Baker-Polito administration is urging residents to get vaccinated now against influenza to protect themselves and their families, and prevent the spread of flu to keep residents healthy and ease the strain on healthcare systems caring for people with COVID-19.

“It is more important than ever for people to get a flu shot this year as we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic,’’ Gov. Charlie Baker said. “If more people are vaccinated against the flu, this will not only help reduce the spread of flu but also the impact of flu-related illness on healthcare facilities, resources, and staff involved in the treatment of COVID patients.”

Last month, the Baker-Polito administration announced a requirement that all students attending kindergarten through college must have a flu immunization by Dec. 31. The requirement also applies to children over 6 months of age attending child care. Exemptions may be made for medical or religious reasons.

In addition, the state adopted a policy, based on the federal PREP Act, which enables qualified pharmacy staff to administer a flu shot to children as young as 3 years old. The previous minimum age in Massachusetts was 9.

“This season, we have focused efforts to obtain additional flu vaccines because of the new school policy for students and knowing this flu season overlaps with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said. “We encourage everyone over 6 months to get a flu shot as soon as possible.”

In anticipation of increased demand for flu shots this year, public-health officials have been working to increase the vaccine supply. Over the past several years, DPH has purchased approximately 900,000 doses annually. This year, the Commonwealth will receive 1,156,000 doses, a 28% increase.