School officials emphasize the importance of required flu vaccine 


Kathleen Ely

Covid tests were conducted on Dec. 21 and Dec. 22 with more to follow Jan. 4 and Jan. 5. In addition to the optional Covid testing, the school is requiring student flu shots as a safety precaution.

Kaitlin Bardsley, Staff Writer

Editors’ note: On Dec. 22, the MA Department of Public Health extended the flu vaccine deadline to Feb. 28, 2021, unless medical or religious exemption is provided. (12/24/20)

The majority of ARHS students have gotten the flu shot vaccine which is required for all Massachusetts students by Jan. 31, and school officials believe it is especially important this year for all to get inoculated. 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, required student flu shots is a safety precaution to help keep everyone healthy and safe. By preventing the spread of the flu, medical experts hope doctors can focus more on patients suffering from COVID-19

“In general, the less number of people that become critically ill from the flu, the more beds in a hospital that will be available for patients with COVID symptoms,” school nurse Heather Allen said. 

According to a Harbinger survey of 262 students conducted through Google Forms from Dec. 7 to Dec. 12,  90 percent of respondents said they already got the flu shot or plan to get it by Jan. 31. 

School nurses Allen and Erika Almquist believe that the flu shot vaccine should positively affect students’ health and decrease the number of students who get the flu and are unhealthy overall. Both nurses are doing the best they can to strongly enforce this requirement and keep everyone as safe as possible. 

“Right now, we are just getting the word out, and it seems that we are getting a good response from parents with the requirement,” Allen said. “ I think that people know that it is important this year.” 

The school decided to create a raffle and put in the names of those who provided documentation of getting the flu vaccine. Two winners from each cohort would be randomly chosen and each winner receives a $50 giftcard to the school store. 

“We created a raffle as an incentive to get kids to get their flu shot and provide documentation,” Almquist said.  

According to the Harbinger survey, 84 percent of respondents say they get their flu vaccine every year. The nurses hope to see a decrease in the number of flu cases due to the shot being required, in addition to the COVID-19 precautions that are now a part of our daily life, such as mask-wearing and social distancing. 

“I have not heard of an abundance of flu yet this year, but the season is just starting,” Allen said.  “I think that other factors will also definitely play a role in decreasing the amount of flu infection we see this year. I think people are more cautious with their health, they wash their hands more, wash surfaces more often.  I think masks will also decrease the transmission of flu this year.”

School administrators are unsure how they will handle the students who refuse the vaccine. 

“[There is] not a lot of direction on what we can do to students who do not get or refuse the vaccine,” Principal Sean Bevan said.