Flu cases on the rise in the Bay State - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Flu cases on the rise in the Bay State

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

Massachusetts is seeing some of the highest number of cases of the flu in years.

Already, 18 people have died from the virus this season.

Everyone from doctors to Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick are urging people to get vaccinated from the flu virus.

"It's a great opportunity for me to remind people about the importance of getting a flu shot," Patrick said in a press conference Wednesday.

In Boston alone, there are reportedly at least 700 cases of the virus, compared to the 70 they saw during last year's flu season.

But you can protect yourself.

The vaccine is 99 percent effective. And whether you either hate needles, or believe the common myth that the flu vaccine can get you sick, local infectious disease expert, Dr. Daniel Skiest of Baystate Medical Center says vaccinate now.

"The flu shot cannot cause the flu and it could save your life," he said.

Patrick is urging residents to use common precautions to avoid spreading the virus.

"Wash your hands, cough into your elbow, some of the basic practices that help reduce the risk," Patrick said.

Skiest says they haven't seen these numbers since 2009.

Baystate officials have even changed hospital policy to minimize the exposure to the virus from both hospital patients and visitors.

"Visitors under 14 should not be visiting, and we're limiting two family members for visiting," Skiest said.

Medical professionals say keep an eye out for these symptoms:

  • Significant fever
  • Headache, muscle aches
  • Cough, runny nose, sore throat

Medical professionals are urging people to take it seriously.

Every year, about 24,000 Americans die from the flu.

"Flu can really be deadly, especially people who are already sick or elderly people. It actually kills thousands of people every year," Skiest said.

Medical professionals also say that the vaccine can take about two weeks to build up immunity so you should get vaccinated as quickly as possible.

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