The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) Friday rescinded a flu vaccine mandate that would have required all children over the age of 6 months attending Massachusetts childcare, pre-school, kindergarten, K-12 or college to get the flu vaccine by Feb. 28.

The reversal came on the same date — Jan. 15 — the DPH was due to respond in court to a request for a preliminary injunction that would have prevented the mandate from being enacted. 

The injunction was filed in conjunction with a lawsuit alleging the mandate was unlawful and therefore unenforceable. The lawsuit, filed in December 2020, in Massachusetts Superior Court by a Massachusetts mother on behalf of her graduate student daughter was funded by Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN). 

The DPH did not issue a press release on the mandate change. However the department issued a statement, obtained by ICAN, to Massachusetts school nurses that reads in part:

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is removing the requirement for flu vaccination for attendance in childcare/preschool, primary, secondary and postsecondary education. 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. 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.

“This rescission of the Massachusetts flu vaccine mandate is extremely welcome,” said Mary Holland, Children’s Health Defense’s (CHD) general counsel. “Kudos to the plaintiffs, ICAN and their lawyers for this important victory that preserves health freedom for thousands of Massachusetts residents.”

Massachusetts public health officials announced the flu vaccine mandate on Aug. 19, 2020, triggering protests and two lawsuits. The initial deadline for complying with the mandate, Dec. 31, 2020 was subsequently extended to Feb. 28.

ICAN was not the only organization that opposed the mandate. According to Boston25 News:

“Some families across the state fought against the mandate and Health Choice 4 Action Massachusetts has been fighting bills at the state level that are trying to eliminate or restrict religious and medical exemptions for vaccinations.”

In November, one parent who objected to the mandate told Boston25 News that parents “deserve to have the final say” about medical decisions for their children:

“Parents are the first responders for every child,” Allison Chapman said. “We are there for every seizure, every sniffle, every sneeze, every triumph, and we know what they suffer through… the parents really know what’s going on and their instincts have to be paid attention to.”

In that same article, Dr. Paul Sax, clinical director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, told Boston25 News the flu shot is not always effective:

“In a good year the flu shot is 60% effective, while in a bad year it’s 10% to 30% effective. The flu vaccine is not our best vaccine. You know it has some warts. For one, it has to be given every year.”

CHD has long pointed out safety concerns about flu vaccines. According to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, roughly two thirds of the vaccine injury claims compensated (5,297 claims) have been for influenza vaccine injuries.

But flu vaccine injuries and deaths could be as high as 320,000, according to CHD. That’s because the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, a voluntary surveillance system, is acknowledged by the government to capture as little as 1% of actual adverse events. The total compensation for flu vaccine injuries to date (paid for by consumers) is almost $4.5 billion.

For more on flu vaccine safety, download this brochure.

CHD recently published a new e-book to help those concerned about vaccine safety and mandates understand the health risks associated with vaccines, the need to respect individual autonomy and the responsibility of those who administer vaccines to provide consumers with complete information.The e-book, “Vaccine Mandates: An Erosion of Civil Rights?” is designed to be used with other CHD resources, including the Mandates Toolbox.