BOSTON: With flu cases on the rise in Boston this month, the Boston Public Health Commission is reminding residents that it’s not too late to get an influenza vaccination. The flu season runs from fall to early spring, but cases in Boston have shown a marked increase in the past several weeks.

As of Feb. 16, there were 306 influenza cases reported in Boston, down from 459 cases at this point in the flu season last year. However, disease tracking done by the Boston Public Health Commission indicates that influenza is currently on the upswing. One influenza death has been reported to date this season, that of a 12-year-old child on Feb. 16.

«The best protection against influenza is an annual influenza vaccination,» said Dr. Anita Barry, director of the Infectious Disease Bureau at the Boston Public Health Commission.

Flu, an illness caused by a virus, can lead to symptoms including a sudden fever, cough, muscle ache, headache, and general weakness. The flu is spread when an infected person sneezes, coughs, or talks and others nearby breathe in the germ. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and can be particularly dangerous for the very young, the very old, and for those with underlying medical problems. Flu symptoms generally begin one to three days after an individual breathes in the virus.

There are two types of immunizations available to protect against the flu. One is a shot given in the arm and the other is a spray given in the nose. A person needs to get a flu immunization every year to be fully protected.

Flu shots are recommended for children age six months through 18 years, pregnant women, persons 50 years of age and older, residents living in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities, persons of any age with chronic medical conditions, and those who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from the flu (such as healthcare workers, household contacts, or caregivers of persons at high risk).

For more information about immunizations, contact your health care provider.

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