Flu cases starting to spike in Boston

Confirmed flu cases (l) and rates of ER visits for flu-like symptoms.Confirmed flu cases (l) and rates of ER visits for flu-like symptoms.

The Boston Public Health Commission says now would be a good time to get a flu shot - because the flu is beginning its annual winter surge in Boston. Figures released today for the week ending Dec. 15 show the rate of emergency-room visits for flu-like symptoms is now at its highest level since March, 2011.

The commission says a shot is a good idea for everybody, but particularly important for people who are over 65 - or under 5 - have lung, heart or kidney ailments, are morbidly obese or are pregnant. Most primary-care physicians can provide a flu shot, or contact the Mayor's Health Line at 617-534-5050 or 800-847-0710.



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      How many people have found that flu shots work?

      A few people I know have gotten them in the past and felt they were sick more often than not getting the shot. I've never gotten one as I rarely seem to get sick (knock on wood) but it would be interesting to see what others think.

      Veteran flu-shot getter checks in

      By on

      I get one every year (darn asthma). Most of the time, the only side effect is my upper arm is sore for a day or two. Every once in awhile, though (including this year) I'll feel like I'm coming down with the flu for a couple of days - a little sleepy, a little sorta achy, a little out of it. Haven't actually gotten the flu since I've been getting the shots, though.

      Flu shots work?

      I have gotten a flu shot regularly for about the past 10 years for a number of reasons:

      I work in a hospital, so nowadays I'm now required to get one or attest in writing that I refused.

      I got in the habit while my parents, both severely immunocompromised in their last few years, were still alive.

      I travel by public transportation, so I'm exposed to a lot of strangers, some of whom may well be sick.

      While I've gotten colds a number of times during that period, and I did have one very unpleasant bout of norovirus, I have not had the flu, nor have I had problems with side effects.

      Admittedly I was not especially prone to catching the flu even without getting the shot, but I do consider this something I do at least as much to protect my family as for myself.

      Works for me

      By on

      Ever since the year my daughter was 2 and we all got a vicious case of the flu where we could barely care for ourselves, I've gotten the shot. Have not had the flu since, even when co-workers have. With a kid in school and me riding the T to work everyday, it's a no brainer. She gets one too. Hubby's getting his tomorrow.

      The more people get vaccinated, the less it spreads. Getting a shot not only protects me but the people I care about and total strangers who are unable to get one (e.g. allergic to something in it). I consider it the best combo of self-preservation and civic duty.

      I've gotten a flu shot every

      By on

      I've gotten a flu shot every year since I moved her over 8 years ago. I take the T everywhere, and I work with the public so I think it's necessary for me. Since I started getting the shots I've only gotten the flu once and it was a mild case that didn't require any medical attention. The most reaction I ever get to a shot is a sore arm for a couple days.

      free flu shots at MGH

      By on

      in the Wang ambulatory care lobby for anyone with an MGH medical record number (the blue card number) Check the MGH website for days and hours

      Uh no

      By on

      The time to get a flu shot was 4-6 weeks ago.

      Uh no

      4 ot 6 weeks ago would have been better, sure, but it's NOT too late to get a flu shot.

      Need more data

      By on

      I wonder how much of this is ER overuse, but you can't really hazard a guess unless there's more data about age of people going to ER, what their general health is, what treatment was done in the ER, etc.

      I can tell you that in my work with children and families, I come across entirely too many families, usually families with lower educational achievement, who think that they need to take healthy toddlers/preschoolers to the ER for flu-like symptoms without red flags like high fever, trouble breathing, dehydration.

      This seems to be encouraged by various social services providers too, who frequently don't trust that parents (of normal mental functioning) can determine what constitutes serious illness. My family had various types of community workers involved in our lives because we adopted our child from the foster system, and we were frequently questioned as to why we didn't take our child to the ER for routine illnesses.

      Negative shot reaction?

      An elderly relative had an auto-immune disorder flare up following the flu shot this year. Coincidence or cause? I'm leaning towards cause since a vaccine works by stimulating/challenging the immune system.

      I am a nurse and have been

      By on

      I am a nurse and have been getting the flu vaccine annually for at least 20yrs. Before that I used to get the flu every year from my patients. Who wants to be sick for 2 weeks every winter?

      I barely get a cold any more. And, no, it's not too late to get the vaccine.

      I work in healthcare and was

      By on

      I work in healthcare and was talked into getting the hep B vaccine years ago, well I had a scary allergic reaction and was sick for days.
      NO vaccines/flu shots for me, per drs orders.
      They surmised I was sensitive to something in the preservatve.

      Thanks, but No Thanks...

      By on

      Thanks, but No Thanks... you'll have to go to the Er if you have an adverse reaction and if they're not the ones that gave you the shot. Well, good luck with that.

      I never get the flu

      By on

      And use crowded public transport, am around lots of people all the time, including children. Live in the city, the whole nine yards. However, I do get upper respiratory infections minimum twice a year, once always in mid-winter Jan-Feb. Those things are a pain to clear up. Probably from indoor pollution.

      I'd also surmise that many of those ER visits weren't necessary. Social service workers do indeed tell their clients to go to the ER all the time. This shouldn't be the case since we've had RomneyCare for many years now and our effective health insurance coverage is I believe 95% of the state's population. And the neighborhoods so heavily impacted all are saturated with neighborhood type health clinics. Something is wrong with this picture.