The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has increased its assessment of flu in Massachusetts to a “very high” severity level this week. This is the highest of four severity levels and means that the number of people reporting and diagnosed with flu symptoms has increased dramatically during the past week.
Here are actions you can take right now to help keep healthy and reduce the spread of the flu:
- Get your flu shot. It is not too late. All influenza strains to date in Massachusetts this season are covered by the current flu vaccine. The flu shot prevents you from getting the flu and reduces severity of symptoms if you catch the flu, but what it also does is help other people who cannot get the flu shot from becoming ill. There are infants, elderly, and people who are immunocompromised, who cannot take the vaccine but who will benefit from others getting the flu shot.
- Personal preventative actions make a significant impact on reducing the spread of this respiratory disease. These include washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth where viruses may have access to your body, avoid close contact with people who are sick, stay home when you are sick and remember to cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. You can clean frequently touched surfaces and objects with soap and water or a disinfectant such as doorknobs, railings, computer keyboards and phones (best to follow directions on how to use the product).