Boston health officials reported the city’s first flu death of the season on Friday, a man in his 60s with underlying health conditions. With seasonal flu now widespread throughout Massachusetts, the Boston Public Health Commission has recorded 158 reported cases of influenza in Boston since October that resulted in 47 hospitalizations.
“We often forget how serious of an illness the flu can be, especially for vulnerable populations,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, said in a statement. “It’s important that we keep encouraging people to get vaccinated as flu season can stretch into March or April.”
Health officials have advised Boston residents to contact their primary care physician, community health center, or local pharmacy to get vaccinated if they have not already. The vaccine is recommended for everyone six months of age and older, and should be received annually since circulating flu virus strains change from year to year. (This new app also makes it easier to find a flu shot near you.)
The city health commission has vouchers for free flu shots for adults over age 18 that were donated by Walgreens. Residents can contact the Mayor’s Health Line at 617-534-5050 for more information.
Young children, elderly folks, pregnant women, and people with underlying health conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease, have a higher risk of developing flu-related complications and of dying from the flu.
Those infected with the flu should take precautions not to spread their illness to others, the health commission recommended, by washing their hands frequently, especially after coughing or sneezing, and staying home if they feel ill or have a fever.Deborah Kotz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @debkotz2.