Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker is once again finding deep division in his decision to mandate that all Massachusetts students and those children in preschool daycare get a seasonal influenza vaccine – commonly referred to as the flu shot – before the end of 2020.

He is following the CDC advice which is encouraging all citizens over six months old to get the shot, in particular during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, getting the shot has up to a 40 percent chance to stop a person from getting serious effects from the flu virus.

In remote cases, the shots can cause serious illness and even death. The keyword being remote, but thousands focus on that. Flu shots prevent some 91,000 cases requiring hospitalization in the United States, according to the CDC.

In a nation of 330 million and an additional 20 million undocumented, it can be tough to grasp what that means.

Well, annually some 26.1 million get the flu every year. So taking the flu shot prevents one in 288 of those confirmed to have influenza from requiring a hospital stay.

If everyone gets the shot, it means one in 3,846 would avoid hospitalization, with or without having influenza.

It has been a choice, not a mandate, for parents until now. Unlike the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine shots, this offers no such virtual guarantee that the patient will not get the virus and fall sick. In fact, odds are that despite modern science, it is still more likely than not that the flu will still affect the person getting these shots forced onto the students and preschool-aged children in public daycare.

So far, 2020 has sure been a bumpy ride and 2021 isn't shaping up much better.

Ken Pittman is the host of The Ken Pittman Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Contact him at ken.pittman@townsquaremedia.com. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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