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Flu Information

Now more than ever, it is critically important to get a flu shot (also called seasonal flu vaccine). Flu season begins in the late fall and goes through winter, peaking between the months of December and February, but people can still get the flu as late as May.

Preventing the spread of flu will limit the need for flu-related medical appointments and hospitalizations, freeing up resources to help people with COVID-19. You can make an appointment for a flu shot with your healthcare provider or at a local pharmacy.

Information on 2021 flu vaccine clinics in Cambridge is available from the Cambridge Public Health Department.

Visit CPHD Flu Page


When is flu season?

Flu season begins in the late fall and goes through winter, peaking between the months of December and February, but people can still get the flu as late as May.

Who should get the flu shot?

Adults and children six months or older are encouraged to get the flu shot. 

People who are both at risk for the flu and for COVID-19 are strongly encouraged to get a flu shot. See the question, “Who is at risk for the flu and COVID-19?” for more information. 

Governor’s Mandate: On August 19, Massachusetts state public health officials announced that the influenza immunization will be required for all children 6 months of age or older who are attending Massachusetts child care, pre-school, K-12, and colleges/universities. Students will be expected to have received a flu vaccine by December 31, 2020.

What types of flu shots are available

CPHD is offering three types of flu vaccines. All three are effective against the flu, are preservative free, and are designed to protect against four different flu viruses. Some vaccines are better suited for certain individuals. You can learn more in the FAQ Types of Influence (Flu) Vaccinations 2020.

“Regular dose” flu vaccine is appropriate for everyone ages 6 months and older.

“High dose” flu vaccine is designed for people 65 and older. The higher dose helps protect seniors who often have additional medical complications that make them more vulnerable to the flu. Seniors also may not have as strong an immune response as younger people. This vaccine is approved for people 65 and older; anyone younger who would like to receive this vaccine can only get it through their medical provider.

FluMist or nasal spray flu vaccine (live attenuated nasal mist flu vaccine) is appropriate for healthy people ages 2-49. FluMist is a great option for people who want to avoid needles! The following individuals, however, should NOT receive FluMist:

  • Pregnant women
  • People who are immunocompromised in any way
  • People with asthma ages 5 and older
  • People with chronic conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease, rheumatological disease, or diabetes
  • People taking chronic aspirin therapy

Who is at risk for the flu and COVID-19?

  • Adults age 65 and older
  • People who are pregnant
  • People with certain medical conditions, such as severe asthma, diabetes, kidney disease, or chronic lung disease.
  • While young children may be less at risk for serious COVID-19 illness, children younger than 5 are at risk for the flu and complications of the flu.
  • Essential workers
  • Caretakers or those who live with someone who is at risk.

Why should I get the flu shot?

An annual seasonal flu shot (or vaccine) is the best way to help protect against flu. It has been shown to have many benefits including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations, and even the risk of flu-related death in children.

By getting a flu shot, you will help keep you, your loved ones, and your neighbors healthy, especially those who are at higher risk for both the flu and COVID-19, and who may have chronic health conditions. 

Preventing the flu translates to fewer sick days and fewer flu-related medical visits or hospitalizations, ensuring healthcare centers and hospitals do not become overwhelmed during the pandemic and the flu season. By getting the flu vaccine, you are also supporting healthcare and other frontline champions who have been working hard during COVID-19.  

Besides getting the flu shot, what else can I do to prevent the flu?

By maintaining your healthy, safe habits of wearing a mask or face covering, handwashing for 20 seconds, and practicing physical distancing, you can help slow the spread of both the flu and COVID-19. 

You can learn more preventive steps against the flu through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

What is the difference between the flu and COVID-19?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it may be hard to tell the difference between the flu and COVID-19 based on symptoms alone because some of the symptoms are so similar. Testing may be needed to confirm a diagnosis. Below is a list of some of the similarities and differences in symptoms. You can learn more about the differences here. If you believe you have either the flu or COVID-19, please contact your healthcare provider. If you have any severe symptoms such as trouble breathing, please seek emergency care immediately. 


Both the flu and COVID-19 can have varying degrees of signs and symptoms, ranging from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe symptoms. Common symptoms that the flu and COVID-19 share include:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Headache
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than in adults.


  • Flu viruses can cause mild to severe illness, including common signs and symptoms listed above. Learn more about flu symptoms here
  • Signs of symptoms of COVID-19 may include change in or loss of taste or smell.
Page was posted on 9/2/2020 2:24 PM
Page was last modified on 1/29/2024 5:54 PM
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