Flu Shot/Influenza Vaccine

Influenza vaccines are encouraged for school attendance

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health continues to strongly recommend that everyone age six months and older receive their seasonal flu vaccine each year.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends the flu vaccine for children ages six months and older to significantly reduce a child’s risk of severe influenza and death.

Special effort should be made to vaccinate all children 6 months and older who have conditions that increase their risk of complications of flu. This includes infants born preterm and those with chronic medical conditions, including , among others. Influenza vaccine should be given to all women who are pregnant, considering pregnancy, or are in the postpartum period or are breastfeeding during the flu season.  Contact your child’s school nurse for more information.

Why should my child get the influenza vaccine?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu (influenza) vaccine for all children 6 months and older.  This year the CDC recommends the flu shot or the nasal spray flu vaccine.  A flu vaccine offers the best defense against flu and its potentially serious consequences and can also reduce the spread of flu to others. Getting vaccinated has been shown to reduce flu illnesses, doctor’s visits, missed work and school days, and reduce the risk of flu-related hospitalization and death in children.

Is it possible for my child to get the flu from the influenza vaccine (flu shot)?

No, the flu vaccine can’t give your child the flu.

Are there any exemptions to receiving influenza vaccine?

Medical and religious exemptions are allowable in the state of Massachusetts.  According to Massachusetts’ General Laws c.76 § 15, a child shall be admitted to school upon certification by a physician that they have personally examined the child and that in their opinion the physical condition of the child is such that the child’s health would be endangered by such vaccination or by any of such immunizations. Such certification shall be submitted at the beginning of each school year to the child’s school nurse and reviewed by the physician in charge of the school health program.

If the physician in charge of the school health program does not agree with the opinion of the child’s physician, the matter shall be referred to the department of public health, whose decision will be final. 

In the absence of an emergency or epidemic of disease declared by the department of public health, no child whose parent or guardian states in writing that vaccination or immunization conflicts with his sincere religious beliefs shall be required to present said physician’s certificate in order to be admitted to school.

What type of influenza vaccine can students receive?

Any age-appropriate licensed influenza vaccine for the current season fulfills the requirement. This includes injectable and nasal spray vaccine types.

Do younger students require 2 doses according to ACIP guidelines?

Children younger than 9 may need two doses of influenza vaccine depending on the number of influenza vaccines they have received in the past. Children should be vaccinated according to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).