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Flu Information

Now more than ever, it is critically important to get a flu shot (also called seasonal flu vaccine).

Cambridge residents can get a flu shot at no charge at one of the flu clinics run by the Cambridge Public Health Department. The health department is currently ramping up its efforts to vaccinate more residents than in previous years while implementing strict safety procedures to reduce the risk of getting—or transmitting—COVID-19. If you are seeking a flu shot, you will be asked to follow new guidelines and recommendations to support these safety and health measures.

The flu clinic schedule will be posted on this page once it has been finalized. Sign up for our Cambridge Daily Updates email with information about upcoming flu clinics and other important updates.

Tips and FAQs

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.

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. 

Similarities:

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.

Differences:

  • 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 9/9/2020 12:29 PM
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