Protect Against Severe Flu
December 5, 2022
Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) reports:
- Influenza severity for Massachusetts is HIGH as of 12/2/2022.
- The percent of influenza-like illness (ILI) visits in Massachusetts is 4.17%, which is higher than the regional baseline of 2.0% and the previous three seasons in the same week.
- The percent of hospitalizations associated with influenza is 1.22%, which is higher than the previous three seasons in the same week.
- The number of influenza vaccine doses administered this flu season is slightly lower than the previous two seasons in the same week. The vaccination rate for all ages is 36%.
- More influenza A than influenza B positive specimens have been reported by hospitals and outpatient facilities in Massachusetts.
- Seasonal influenza activity is elevated across the country.
What is Influenza (Flu)?
Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.
Influenza (flu) can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Flu symptoms usually come on suddenly. People who have flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
- fever* or feeling feverish/chills
- sore throat
- runny or stuffy nose
- muscle or body aches
- fatigue (tiredness)
- some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
Complications of Flu
Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.
People at Higher Risk from Flu
Anyone can get flu (even healthy people), and serious problems related to flu can happen at any age, but some people are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant people, and children younger than 5 years.
Preventing Seasonal Flu
The first and most important step in preventing flu is to get a flu vaccine each year. Flu vaccine has been shown to reduce flu related illnesses and the risk of serious flu complications that can result in hospitalization or even death. CDC also recommends everyday preventive actions (like staying away from people who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes, and frequent handwashing) to help slow the spread of germs that cause respiratory (nose, throat, and lungs) illnesses, like flu.