Flu activity high nationwide

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Center for Disease Control expects flu activity to remain high nationally for weeks to come.

So far this flu season, there have been 6.4 million cases of the flu and 2,900 flu-related deaths. In Massachusetts, the Department of Public Health reports that flu-like illness activity has increased from moderate to high this past week.

“We are seeing more flu everyday,” said Tricia Porter, a nurse practitioner at the AFC Urgent Care in West Springfield. “Yesterday out of 49 patients, about 17 were positive which is significantly higher than usual.”

22News was told by Dr. John O’Reilly, a Pediatric doctor at Baystate Health Medical Center that the influenza B has been most common this flu season. He also says it is common to see a spike in the flu after the holidays.

“What is different this year is that same holiday week the number of cases has really shot up compared to the last two years,” said Dr. O’Reilly. “And that’s why here in Western Mass, we’ve gone from a low severity rating to a moderate level of the influenza.”

Flu symptoms

According to the Massachsuetts DPH, symptoms of the flu include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Runny nose
  • Lethargy

If you do get sick, the DPH recommends the following:

“Stay home from work and school if you get sick with a flu-like illness (fever with cough or sore throat) and avoid contact with others so the virus does not spread. Stay at home until you have been free from fever for at least 24 hours after your last dose of fever-reducing medication (like Tylenol, Advil or Motrin). For most people this will mean staying at home for about 4 days.”

Massachusetts DPH

Should I get the flu shot?

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every season with rare exception. People at high risk of serious complications from the flu include young children, pregnant women, adults 65 and older, and people with asthma, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and cancer.

Can you get the flu from the flu shot?

The CDC says this is a common misconception about the flu vaccine.

“Flu vaccines given with a needle (i.e., flu shots) are currently made in two ways: the vaccine is made either with a) flu viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ (killed) and that therefore are not infectious, or b) using only a single gene from a flu virus (as opposed to the full virus) in order to produce an immune response without causing infection.”

CDC

The most common side effects from the flu shot are soreness, redness, swelling or tenderness where the shot was given, according to the CDC. Low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches are also possible side effects, but the CDC says they usually resolve in 1-2 days.

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