Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) are urging all Boston residents to get a flu vaccination as soon as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I got my flu shot (Friday) because we know the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against the flu is to get a flu vaccine every season. And this year during the pandemic, it is more important than ever,” said Mayor Walsh. “By getting vaccinated, you will help us slow the spread of the flu and ease the strain on our healthcare system that continues to treat patients battling COVID-19.”
Most influenza activity in Boston occurs between October and March. During the 2019-20 influenza season, there were 5,131 confirmed cases of flu in Boston residents. Data from the end of the 2019-2020 flu season may not be complete due to the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown.
The most common symptoms of influenza include fever, cough, muscle aches, headache, runny nose, sore throat and general weakness. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. Pregnant women, infants, people who are 65 years old and older, and people with other medical conditions (asthma, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease) and weakened immune systems are at higher risk to develop severe illness when they get the flu.
“The flu is a serious virus and it is possible to have both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. While there may not be a vaccine for COVID-19 yet, there is a vaccine for the flu. That is why it is critical that everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu vaccine as soon as possible,” said BPHC Medical Director, Jennifer Lo, MD.
“We can all do our part to keep our families healthy and prevent hospitalizations from the flu by getting vaccinated. People who are not at risk for severe illness can pass the infection to their families, friends and neighbors,” said Chief of Health and Human Services Marty Martinez. “We’re asking everyone six months of age and older to get a flu vaccine. Do not wait. Get yours today and help protect your Boston community.”
There are a variety of flu vaccination options available, most of which are completely covered by health insurance:
• Primary Care Provider: Most health insurance plans cover the cost of a flu vaccine from your primary care provider and require no co-pay.
• Pharmacies: Many pharmacies offer the flu vaccine at no cost to the patient. Due to COVID-19 public health emergency, many pharmacists in Massachusetts are now able to vaccinate those who are 3 years old and older. For pharmacies, individuals are encouraged to call ahead to confirm availability and any required documentation.
If residents do not have insurance or if co-pays are a barrier, BPHC encourages them to call the Mayor’s Health Line at (617) 534-5050. BPHC is providing vouchers for free flu vaccines to uninsured or underinsured adults.
For questions about the flu or flu vaccines, please call the BPHC Infectious Disease Bureau at (617) 534-5611.