Push comes as the city marks National Influenza Vaccination Week
BOSTON – Bracing for a possible increase in influenza activity in Boston, the Boston Public Health Commission is encouraging residents to get vaccinated as it marks National Influenza Vaccination Week, which this year runs from Dec. 5 - 11.
Today, the Commission began rolling out a public awareness campaign on the MBTA to promote vaccination, and next week billboards will go up throughout the city. The agency is also providing vaccine for 16 public flu clinics this week, which are being held at neighborhood Community Health Centers in Dorchester, Roxbury, and Jamaica Plain, at the State House in Beacon Hill and the Cathedral in the South End.
“The flu season is really just starting, and we’re already seeing significant influenza activity in the southeast part of the country,” said Dr. Anita Barry, director of Infectious Disease Bureau at the Boston Public Health Commission. “While there is very little influenza-like illness in Boston right now, it is very hard to predict the level of activity we’ll see here in the weeks and months ahead.”
Dr. Barry and other public health officials advise that everyone 6 months of age and older get vaccinated. There is plenty of vaccine available this year and at multiple health centers in Boston. Only one vaccine is required this year. Residents can opt to get a flu shot or the nasal spray. However, the nasal spray vaccine can only be used on people between ages 2 and 49, those who are not pregnant, and otherwise healthy. The Public Health Commission keeps a calendar of flu clinics, which are free, at www.bphc.org/flu. Residents can also call or walk in to any of the health centers to make arrangements to get vaccinated.
Certain groups, including pregnant women, children, caregivers of children younger than 6 months, and people with chronic medical conditions are at high risk of serious influenza-related complications and should get vaccinated every year. Those high-risk conditions include asthma, diabetes, heart disease, kidney and liver disorders, neurological disorders, blood disorders, morbid obesity, HIV or AIDS, and cancer.
Many adults spend the majority of their waking hours at work, and flu can spread rapidly through an office or workplace causing illness and lost productivity. Flu can also spread at this time of year when family and friends gather in close quarters for the holidays.
People working in health care settings who get sick from flu can spread influenza viruses to vulnerable populations. People age 65 and older are at increased risk for complications from flu, which can lead to hospitalizations and even death, and should get vaccinated yearly.
For more information about the flu, visit www.bphc.org/flu.