BOSTON – The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) announced that it will host a flu vaccine clinic at Boston City Hall on Friday, November 20, 2015. The clinic, which is open to the public, will take place in the O’Neil Room on the 8th floor of City Hall from 10AM to 4PM. People with and without health insurance can take advantage of this flu clinic. The flu vaccine will be given at no cost to the individual. However, if people have health insurance, they should bring their insurance card with them.
“The flu vaccine is the best first line of defense in the prevention and spread of influenza,” said Dr. Huy Nguyen, Interim Executive Director of BPHC. “Flu season has started, and residents should take full advantage of this clinic and other resources across the City to protect themselves and their loved ones.”
Influenza (often called “flu”) is a contagious illness caused by the influenza virus. Symptoms include fever, cough, muscle aches, headache, runny nose, sore throat and general weakness. The onset of these symptoms may be sudden and can range from mild to severe. The flu can be especially serious for children, seniors and people who have other medical problems. Most influenza activity in Boston usually occurs from October through March each year.
The viruses that cause flu live in the nose and throat of infected people. An infected person can spray the germs into the air when he or she sneezes, coughs or talks. The virus is spread to people nearby who can then breathe it in. Flu symptoms usually start one to three days after a person breathes in the virus, but it can take longer. Most infected people can spread the flu to others one day before symptoms appear and up to one week after becoming sick.
Everyone six months and older should get the flu vaccine. Getting vaccinated is important because some people have a higher risk for serious illness if they contract influenza, including the elderly, young children, pregnant women and people with certain health problems (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or other conditions). Even people who are not at risk for severe illness can pass the infection to their families, friends and patients, some of whom may be in the high risk category.
Vaccines are also available at primary care providers and most local pharmacies. The cost of flu vaccines are regularly covered by the patient’s insurance, with little or no co-pay. Those who do not have health insurance, or for whom co-pays may be a barrier, are encouraged to call the Mayor’s Health Line at (617) 534-5050 or (800) 847-0710. BPHC, through the Mayor’s Health Line, will be offering vouchers for free flu vaccines to uninsured or underinsured adults, which may be redeemed at any Walgreens pharmacy.
In addition to getting your flu vaccine, there are many ways you can help prevent the spread of germs, including:
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand gel.
• Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth.
• Clean surfaces in your home regularly with a household cleaner.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick when possible.
• If you become sick, stay home. A person with the flu should stay home for 24 hours after their fever has gone away without the use of fever reducing medicine. For most people, this will be a minimum of four days.
Influenza is unpredictable and can be severe. Between 1976 and 2006, the CDC estimates from 3,000 to 49,000 people died each year from influenza. In 2014-2015, 147 children in the US died from influenza.