You’re Not Imagining Things: The Flu Is Worse This Year

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reports an increase in flu severity this week.

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If you haven’t received your flu vaccine yet, let this be your friendly reminder to get one. The flu is bad this year, and it appears to only be getting worse.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s weekly influenza update revealed an increase in the illness in the Commonwealth from low to moderate this week. According to the report, severity is determined by comparing three pieces of data: influenza-like illness, hospitalizations, and influenza positive test results.

Those who live in the western part of the state are a little more well off, reporting a moderate increase, while other parts of the state are reporting high activity. Overall, the percentage of flu-like visits to the doctor are higher than in the previous two years during the same week, however hospitalizations due to the flu are lower—phew.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu-like symptoms are similar to that of a cold, including cough, sore throat, and runny nose. If you experience an abrupt onset of symptoms as well as a fever, chills, and aches, though, you’re more likely to have the flu.

Also of note: The DPH reports that influenza B is more prevalent this year than influenza A. The latter is more likely to cause flu pandemics, so I guess we can take a sigh of relief there. But be wary: Illness activity is increasing and the best form of prevention is to get vaccinated.

Most vaccination options are covered by health insurance. Stop by your primary care physician or your closest pharmacy to be vaccinated. If you do not have insurance, the Boston Public Health Commission urges you to call the Mayor’s Health Line at 617-534-5050 to receive a voucher for a free flu vaccine.

And just in case we all need a refresher: Stay home when you’re sick (for crying out loud), use the tried and true elbow method to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and sing the alphabet when you wash your hands. Personal hygiene is important. So is curling up with a warm bowl of soup. It might not cure the flu, but it might do wonders for your morale.