Hundreds of parents and children gathered in Massachusetts on Sunday to protest the state’s new flu shot requirement for all students.
The demonstration was held in front of the Massachusetts State House in Boston with protesters holding signs that read “My child, my choice” and “Bodily autonomy is a human right.”
“No forced shots” was also written in chalk outside the building.
The protesters called on Republican Gov. Charlie Baker to rescind a state mandate from Aug. 19 requiring students 6 months and older to get the flu vaccine by Dec. 31 for this school year, unless a medical or religious exemption is given.
The mandate, believed to be the first in the country, includes students in child care, pre-school, kindergarten and K-12, as well as full-time undergraduate and graduate students under 30, and all full- and part-time health science students.
Officials fear the flu season and coronavirus pandemic will overwhelm the health care system, according to the Boston Globe.
“I would hope people would understand this is an important part of how we continue to fight the [corona]virus here in Massachusetts,” Baker said on Aug. 20. “The more people who get the flu shot don’t get the flu and don’t wind up in the ER.”
Some of the parents at the protest said they didn’t want to be labeled anti-vaccine but didn’t agree with the new rule.
“The flu vaccine should not be a mandate,” Jessica Marchant told WCVB 5. “It should be a choice.”