As Massachusetts and Virginia lead the country in a push toward mandatory vaccination for both COVID-19 and the flu (which public health experts worry could exacerbate the current COVID-19 outbreak), a large group of protesters converged outside the Massachusetts State House in Boston, holding signs that read "Unavoidably unsafe," "My child, my choice," "Parents call the shots" and "I am not a threat."
Written in chalk in front of the statehouse was the phrase "No forced shots". While some protesters wore masks, many didn't.
The protest were inspired by an Aug. 19 announcement that influenza immunization will be required for all children ages 6 months or older who are attending Massachusetts child care, pre-school, kindergarten, or K-12 schools.
In other words, children must be vaccinated, or else. Full-time undergraduate students, and graduate students under 30, will also be required to get the vaccine.
Activists insisted that "informed and voluntary consent" is a basic human right.
"The flu vaccine should not be a mandate. It should be a choice," Jessica Marchant said during a TV interview.
Others accused state officials of "taking advantage" of the fear caused by the virus.
"I think parents are vulnerable right now. They need their kids to go to school and they backed us into a corner," Taryn Proulx told WCVB.
"We feel like we have to just comply or rearrange our whole lives and homeschool our children."
Health experts have warned of a brutal "twindemic" caused by the flu circulating alongside SARS-CoV-2. While COVID-19 most seriously affects older adults, children are much more vulnerable to the flu.