Governor Charlie Baker has retreated on his executive order that mandated flu shots for all school-aged children attending public schools in Massachusetts. The order was an overreach and was met with resistance from many parents who threatened to go to court to block it.

As flu season was drawing near, Baker thought local hospitals would be inundated with people suffering flu-like symptoms, which can be similar to COVID-19 symptoms. That, thought Baker, would place an unneeded burden on what could have been an overwhelmed hospital system.

As it turns out, the local hospitals never reached capacity levels, and the flu season has been much milder than expected, resulting in fewer flu patients seeking refuge at the hospitals. Social distancing, mask-wearing, and attention to hygiene have helped to keep the flu at bay. At least so far anyway.

While I understand the Baker Administration's desire to keep the flu from adding to the COVID crisis, demanding that all kids under the age of 18 receive a flu shot or get booted from school never made much sense to me. Baker should have anticipated the resistance from parents, many of whom were angry over the amount of classroom time their kids had already missed.

State health officials should have advised Baker that time spent tracking and vaccinating all public school children would be valuable time away from treating COVID patients.

All is well that ends well. Baker's order was well-intended but unenforceable. Baker was wise to withdraw the order since the deadline had passed anyway, and there appears to be no sensible reason to fight it out in court.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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