Mayor Thomas Menino declared a health emergency due to Boston's flu outbreak.
There were over 700 reported cases in the city this flu season, according to the Boston Public Health Commission. That's 10 times the average number of cases last year, according to WBUR.
Fortunately, there's plenty of vaccine to go around this year, and the mayor's office recommends everyone get the shot. The city website has a calendar of free flu vaccine clinics. They also have a page devoted to flu information and prevention tips. You can also use the widget above to find flu shots at pharmacies, clinics and other locations near you.
The Red Cross offers several tips to reduce your exposure to the flu, like washing your hands often, coughing and sneezing into your elbow instead of your hand and others on this list.
“This is the worst flu season we’ve seen since 2009, and people should take the threat of flu seriously,” Menino said. “This is not only a health concern, but also an economic concern for families, and I’m urging residents to get vaccinated if they haven’t already. It’s the best thing you can do to protect yourself and your family. If you’re sick, please stay home from work or school.”
Flu cases are now accounting for over 4 percent of all emergency department visits at Boston hospitals, compared to about 1 percent during non-influenza season. Of influenza cases reported to date in Boston residents, 25 percent have been ill enough to require hospitalization. Since October 1, four Boston residents, all seniors, have died from flu-related illnesses. Certain people, including the elderly, young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or other conditions), are at greater risk for serious illness if they get influenza. Some individuals may not be at risk for severe illness themselves, but can transmit the infection to their families, friends, and patients.
The Boston Public Health Commission is urging people to contact their primary care doctor to get a flu vaccination, which can be administered as a shot or as a nasal spray. Everyone 6 months and older should be vaccinated against influenza. Boston residents that need help finding where to get vaccinated can contact the Mayor’s Health Line at 617-534-5050 from 9am-5pm, Monday through Friday, or the Mayor’s 24-hour Hotline at 617-635-4500 after hours.