Protesters have swarmed downtown Boston and the state Capitol in the seven weeks since Republican Gov. Charlie Baker issued the first-of-its-kind requirement for students from preschool through college.As the Massachusetts mandate plays out, other states have weighed similar requirements while colleges throughout the country pile on their own orders to prevent flu patients from clogging doctors offices and emergency rooms alongside people infected with coronavirus this winter.
State laws across the country already require various vaccines for students and health care workers, while allowing a host of exemptions. Governments still have broad authority to implement new flu shot orders, potentially paving the way for mandatory inoculation against the coronavirus in a country where vaccine skepticismis spreading and President Donald Trump has resisted many public health protocols during the pandemic.
“This is a brave new experiment by the state of Massachusetts,” said Lawrence Gostin, who heads a university-based center on health law that serves as an official collaborating institute with the World Health Organization. “If it turns out to be a wholesale success, that should influence other states to go a similar route, not just with flu but with other vaccines. But if it causes a backlash and only marginal benefit, states might be hesitant to adopt that model in the future.”