Officials in Massachusetts have already declared a health emergency in the Boston area, Newsday reports. With more than 1,500 flu-related emergency room visits and four deaths in Boston alone, the state is beginning to ramp up plans to provide free vaccinations for those who don’t already have the shot.
Boston Mayor Thomas Merino claims the number of cases is already 10 times more than last year’s reported illnesses. The percentage of doctor’s visits concerning flu-like symptoms was 2.2% in 2012, but this year it’s already at 5.6% — with flu season not yet halfway through.
The strain of influenza that’s making most people sick this year is called H3N2, which already had a reputation for producing severe symptoms, particularly in the elderly.