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State health officials urge people to get flu vaccine

State health officials are urging Massachusetts residents to get a flu vaccine as soon as possible and there are already confirmed cases in the state, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health said.

The department has confirmed 82 cases of the flu since Sept. 1, which is a normal amount for this time of year, the department said in a statement.

“We don’t know how severe this year’s flu season will be, but we do know that the flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself, your family, and everyone around you. Although the flu vaccine won’t prevent every case of the flu, it’s still the most effective way to reduce your risk of serious illness,” said Monica Bharel, the state’s public health commissioner.

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Health officials recommend people wash their hands regularly, cover their cough, and stay home if they are sick, the department said. Anyone with the flu should contact their doctor right away.

“The flu vaccine is widely available across the state, including at health care provider offices, pharmacies, school and workplace vaccination clinics, and flu vaccine clinics sponsored by local boards of health,” the statement said.

Over 80 percent of Massachusetts children had a flu vaccination last year, which is one of the highest rates in the nation, said Larry Madoff, the medical director of the department’s bureau of infectious disease and laboratory sciences.

The most common flu symptoms are fatigue, chills, body aches, and headaches, the department said. Millions of people across the country get the flu and thousands die every year from flu-related illnesses.

“Some people are at higher risk of serious health problems when they get flu, including pregnant women, infants, older adults, and people with medical conditions,” the statement said.


Alyssa Lukpat can be reached at alyssa.lukpat@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @AlyssaLukpat.

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