We are excited to share with you the accomplishments of the three-year Let's Get Healthy, Boston! (LGHB) project and to preview what comes next. LGHB was funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 2014 - 2017 to address leading risk factors for chronic disease and to improve health outcomes in Boston, particularly for residents with the greatest chronic disease burden. Our project team worked with partners across the City of Boston to increase access to smoke-free housing, healthy food and beverages, and active living opportunities.
With Boston Public Health Commission and Boston Alliance for Community Health (BACH) as the lead partners, we engaged more than 100 community organizations, grassroots coalitions, city agencies, schools, retail stores, landlords, management companies, advocacy groups, universities, and others to plan, lead, inform, educate, train, organize, capacity-build, evaluate, and ultimately change Boston's neighborhoods to become healthier places for all. "Preventing chronic diseases and deaths resulting from unhealthy diets, tobacco use, and physical inactivity is a shared priority for BPHC and BACH. Diseases attributable to these behaviors are some of the leading causes of premature death and rising health care costs, and it is our responsibility to change these behaviors and reverse those trends by working to make Boston a healthier and more equitable place to live, play, and work." - BPHC Executive Director Monica Valdes Lupi, JD, MPH
So, how did we do?
Smoke-Free Housing (SFH) "Going smoke-free with our housing portfolio was the right choice for Codman Square NDC. Not only did it help address the health needs of children and older adults dealing with asthma and other airborne ailments, but it also complemented other green measures used in our buildings that contribute to a better quality of life for residents and a healthier housing community." - Marcos Beleche, Assistant Director, Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation
- 21,000 additional rental housing units are now smoke-free, reaching residents in both market rate and affordable housing developments.
- All 17 Boston Community Development Corporations are now smoke-free. These agencies received 85,000 pieces of SFH educational material, door decals, etc. to share with their residents.
- Community partners began a dialogue with the Boston Department of Neighborhood Development about strategies to incentivize new housing developments to begin as smoke-free.
- The "Go Smoke-Free" media campaign, launched in collaboration with REACH Partners in Health and Housing, reached landlords and management companies about the benefits of going smoke free, with messages from landlords who made the transition. The campaign had an estimated 11.9 million "impressions" (potential views) on billboards across the city.
Healthy Food and Beverages
"Making it easier for people to make healthy choices is crucial to achieving health equity in Boston. With 'Farm Fresh Boston,' we hope to make people aware that there is a wide network of healthy and affordable food resources that can protect us from poor health outcomes such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and hypertension." - BPHC Executive Director Monica Valdes Lupi
- 31 neighborhood corner stores and 10 Walgreens pharmacies promoted water and other healthy beverages as preferred options through signage and product placement.
- Tropical Foods Supermarket in Dudley Square has installed permanent English-Spanish ReThink Your Drink signage and "green" beverage shelf labels that designate 109 products as healthier beverages.
- 30 nutrition education events at farmers markets and supermarkets engaged more than 2,400 residents.
- 1,000+ residents attended ReThink Your Drink demonstrations about the sugar content and health impact of various beverages at community events.
- More than 400 pharmacists attended continuing education trainings about the negative health impact of sugary drinks and how to talk to pharmacy patients about limiting sugar intake.
- The bi-lingual English-Spanish #FarmFreshBoston public awareness campaign promoted Boston's 25 farmers markets that offer financial incentives to low-income SNAP customers. The campaign had an estimated 22.8 million impressions on billboards, bus ads, newspaper ads and neighborhood way-finding signs.
- A pilot of new digital technology for processing SNAP EBT cards at 10 farmers markets helped facilitate the transition in Boston from Bounty Bucks to the statewide Healthy Incentives Program as the new financial incentive.
Safe Routes to School "The simple act of walking to school offers a myriad of benefits. When students walk or bike to school, they are not only getting more exercise, but they are boosting their energy levels to help them become better learners throughout the school day." - BPS Superintendent Tommy Chang
- A new district-wide Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program to promote walking and biking to school launched in Boston Public Schools (BPS) with program components in 32 elementary schools.
- BPS has integrated a new pedestrian safety module into its K-5 physical education curriculum. Teachers were trained and began offering the curriculum. The curriculum has been institutionalized into PE teacher training.
- BPS created a SRTS communications brand, plan and toolkit to help the district and schools effectively communicate about the benefits of active travel.
- Preferred walking route maps have been developed and shared with families at 28 schools.
- Four semi-annual Walk to School Day events engaged approximately over 5,000 students at 32 schools. The New England Patriots mascot, Mayor Walsh, and many BPS and City of Boston senior leaders participated in the events.
- Boston Transportation and Public Works Departments incorporated SRTS and school sites into its comprehensive safety planning, including Vision Zero, sidewalk repairs and Slow Streets grant criteria.
- The Boston School Committee approved a revised comprehensive Wellness Policy that establishes a District commitment to support and promote safe and physically active transportation to and from school.
- A five-year inter-agency strategic plan has been developed to guide the City in continued SRTS implementation.
Looking ahead, Boston is excited to receive a grant from the Partnership for Healthy Cities
, funded through Bloomberg Philanthropies, to support SRTS for the 2017-18 school year. This new grant will allow us to continue SRTS communications work, support school programs and events, and work with partners on creating a sustainable Boston SRTS initiative.
Stay up to-date on Boston SRTS through our website https://www.bostonpublicschools.org/saferoutes
Bicycling for Active Transportation "As residents, we know we cannot create large-scale change alone. LGHB has empowered and resourced the community to create a change that is impacting the health of youth and families and changing our walking and biking environment for decades to come."- Paul Malkemes- ED of The Boston Project Ministries
- Hubway bike share enrolled 256 low-income subsidized members at 7 neighborhood access points and institutionalized low-income membership across 4 area municipalities as part of its new management contract.
- Boston Project Ministries mobilized residents to lead traffic calming measures and received a Slow Streets grant from Boston Transportation Department.
- Sixteen neighborhood bike safety events and 11 learn-to-ride workshops improved the bicycling skills of more than 240 residents.
- Three neighborhood residents who are women of color are now licensed by the American League of Cyclists as cycling instructors and will utilize a community-based bike library to continue teaching more residents how to bike safely.
- The first annual Boston Neighborhood Bike Forum in Dudley Square brought together more than 100 Boston residents and bicycling activists to connect, share, learn and envision what bicycling could be in Boston neighborhoods. #BikeYourHood
- The Boston Cyclists' Union's "pop-up" stations repaired over 1,500 bikes at farmers markets in 6 neighborhoods without bike shops.
- Boston Transportation Department produced a new resource "Boston by Bike" to help residents interested in biking get started.
- The bi-lingual English-Spanish #IBikeBoston public awareness campaign featured real people from six neighborhoods and why they bike, aimed to influence social norms about bicycling. The campaign had an estimated 15 million impressions on billboards and bus ads.
Healthy Community Champions "The program has given our community the opportunity to work together and look at different ways to increase the overall health of our neighborhood!" - Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition HCC Coordinator Vivian Ortiz
The Healthy Community Champion (HCC) initiative, led by the Boston Alliance for Community Health (BACH), mobilized more than 100 residents as ambassadors and educators in their neighborhoods.
- HCCs were instrumental in the implementation of activities across Let's Get Healthy, Boston! three focus areas and were the voice of the project in Boston neighborhoods.
- 12 community based organizations/coalitions, in 10 neighborhoods, led HCC teams.
- Champions ranged in age from 14-78, spoke 12 languages, and reflected the racial and ethnic diversity of the city of Boston.
- HCCs led outreach to landlords and neighbors on smoke free housing, engagement of corner stores, and coordinated neighborhood active transportation events.
- HCCs interacted with more than 15,000 residents through community events and activities.
Looking ahead, BACH is working to build the HCC initiative into its organizational structure. With funding from the Tufts Health Plan Foundation, BACH is developing an "HCC 2.0" model, taking the lessons learned from LGHB! and creating a sustainable program model.
Have you seen the video series highlighting the success and impact of the Healthy Community Champions? Check them out here
In addition to these accomplishments, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Prevention Research Center is completing evaluations of the Safe Routes to Schools and Healthy beverages work. We are excited to have data that supports our accomplishments and plan to share the results in a future newsletter. On behalf of the Let's Get Healthy, Boston! team, thank you for your interest and partnership on this project, and for your commitment to preventing chronic disease in Boston. Though this project has ended, our collective work to continue making Boston a healthier city continues.
Stay in touch! We plan to keep you on our listserv for future work of BPHC's Chronic Disease Prevention and Control Division. If you have specific questions or comments about LGHB, reach us at: ChronicDisease@bphc.org.
Looking for cold weather resources? Here's our advice for staying healthy and safe while shoveling and heating your home today.
With reports of extreme weather heading to Boston tomorrow, it's important that we look out for one another. See below for a few shelter & recovery resources. Remember, if someone needs immediate help, call 911.
- Drinking more water has many health benefits including weight loss, improved mood, healthier skin and more energy (among many others)
- Recommended water intake:
- Women: 2.2 liters of water (about 9 cups)
- Men: 3 liters of water (about 13 cups)
CHOOSE YOUR GOAL! Make it SMART.
- Think about how much water you usually drink in a day, what is a reasonable increase?
- Write it down! Post-it note, on your desk? In your planner? On your phone?
- Share your goal with friends and/or on social media
- This week I resolve to drink _____ cups of water per day. #Moving4ward @HealthyBoston
- There's an app for that! Try Waterlogged to track your daily intake and set reminders. Not into apps? A regular old phone or online calendar reminder will do! Or even a post-it note near your work space.
- Keep a water bottle at your desk or in your purse when you're on the go. No excuses!
- On a budget? Good thing water is FREE! Free & delicious!
- Is water too boring? Jazz it up by infusing your water with fresh fruit. Ideas here!
- Feeling hungry? Try drinking a glass of water first, you may just be dehydrated.
What healthy steps forward are you taking in 2018? Share them with us @HealthyBoston #Moving4ward
Cada año, aproximadamente 12.000 mujeres en los Estados Unidos son diagnosticadas con cáncer cervical y casi 4.000 mujeres terminan muriendo de esta enfermedad. Unas de las causas más comunes del cáncer cervical es el virus del papiloma humano (VPH).
Actualmente, alrededor de 80 millones de americanos están infectados con VPH. Aproximadamente 14 millones de personas son infectadas cada año. El VPH es tan común que la mayoría de las mujeres y los hombres que han tenido sexo van a tener por lo menos un tipo de VPH en una etapa de su vida. En la mayoría de los casos, VPH desaparece del cuerpo y no causa ningún problema de salud. Pero cuando el VPH no desaparece del cuerpo, puede causar problemas de salud como el cáncer cervical.
Existe una vacuna disponible que protege a los hombres y mujeres contra los tipos más graves de VPH. Las vacunas son recomendadas para personas entre las edades de 11 y 26 años.
- Mujeres: la vacuna está recomendada para niñas de 11 o 12 años, pero también se puede administrar hasta los 26 años para las mujeres que no recibieron ninguna dosis o no recibieron todas las dosis cuando eran más jóvenes.
- Hombres: la vacuna está recomendada para niños de 11 o 12 años, pero también se puede administrar hasta los 21 años para los hombres que no recibieron ninguna dosis o no recibieron todas las dosis cuando eran más jóvenes. La vacuna también está recomendada para hombres de hasta 26 años que tengan relaciones sexuales con hombres o tengan su sistema inmunitario comprometido.
Se recomienda que los jóvenes entre 11 y 14 años de edad reciban 2 dosis de la vacuna contra el VPH dado al menos con 6 meses de separación. Sin embargo, los adolescentes de 14 años o más que han recibido 2 dosis de la vacuna contra el VPH con menos de 5 meses de separación, necesitarán una tercera dosis. Para los adolescentes y adultos jóvenes que comienzan la serie de vacunas en las edades de 15 y 26 años, necesitarán 3 dosis de la vacuna contra el VPH. También se recomiendan 3 dosis para las personas que tienen las defensas bajas. Hable con su proveedor se salud para obtener más detalles.
¡Prevenga el cáncer cervical con un examen adecuado en el momento adecuado!
- Las pruebas de detección periódicas como la prueba de Papanicolaou y la prueba del VPH pueden encontrar células anormales que pueden ser tratadas antes de que se conviertan en cáncer.
- La prueba de Papanicolaou busca cambios en las células del cuello uterino que pueden convertirse en cáncer si no se tratan en forma adecuada.
- La prueba del VPH busca al virus que causa el cambio en las células.
- ¡La mayoría de las mujeres no necesitan hacerse la prueba de Papanicolaou todos los años!
- Se recomienda hacerse la primera prueba de Papanicolaou cuando una mujer cumple 21 años (incluso si haya completado todas las dosis de la vacuna contra el VPH).
- Si los resultados son normales, puede ser que no necesite repetir la prueba por 3 años. Su proveedor de salud decidirá qué tan frecuente necesita hacerse la prueba.
- Si los resultados son anormales, su proveedor de salud decidirá que tan frecuente necesita hacerse la prueba.
- La prueba del VPH no es recomendada para mujeres menores de 30 años.
- Cuando usted cumpla 30 años, usted podrá:
- Obtener la prueba de Papanicolaou cada 3 años si los resultados son normales, o
- Hacerse la prueba de Papanicolaou y la prueba del VPH cada 5 años.
- Si los resultados de estas pruebas son anormales, su proveedor de salud va a determinar qué tan frecuente necesita hacerse la prueba.
- Puede dejar de hacerse pruebas de detección periódicas si:
- Tiene 65 años o más y ha tenido resultados normales de la prueba de Papanicolaou por varios años.
- No tiene una cerviz porque fue sacada durante una cirugía por una razón que no era cancerosa, como fibromas.
Cuando el cáncer cervical es encontrado temprano, puede ser tratado y las personas afectadas pueden sobrevivir por muchos años con una buena calidad de vida.
Ayude a prevenir el cáncer cervical. Vacune a sus niños contra la infección de VPH, y si es una mujer de 21 años o más, ¡hágase chequeos regularmente!
Para más información sobre el VPH, visite aquí.
Each year, about 12,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer and about 4,000 women die from it. One of the main causes of cervical cancer is the human papillomavirus (HPV).
About 80 million Americans are currently infected with HPV. About 14 million people become newly infected each year. HPV is so common that most sexually-active men and women will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives. In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems. But when HPV does not go away, it can cause health problems like cervical cancer.
A vaccine is available to protect men and women from getting the most serious strains of HPV. The vaccines are recommended for 11-26 year olds.
- For women: the vaccine is recommended for 11 or 12 year-old girls but can also be given to women through age 26 who did not get any or all of the doses when they were younger.
- For men: The vaccine is recommended for boys aged 11 or 12 years but can also be given to men through age 21 who did not get any or all doses when they were younger. The vaccine is also recommended for men through the age of 26 who have sex with men or have a compromised immune system.
It is recommended that 11-14 year olds receive 2 doses of HPV vaccine given at least 6 months apart. However, if adolescents 14 years or younger have received 2 doses of HPV vaccine less than 5 months apart, they will need to get a third dose. For teens and young adults who start the series later at ages 15-26, they will need 3 doses of HPV vaccine. Three doses are also recommended for people with weakened immune systems ages 11-26 years. Talk to your healthcare provider for more details.
Prevent Cervical Cancer with the Right Test at the Right Time!
- Screening tests, such as the Pap test and HPV test, can find abnormal cells so they can be treated before they turn into cancer.
- The Pap test looks for changes in cells on the cervix that could turn into cancer if left untreated.
- The HPV test looks for the virus that causes these cell changes.
- Most women don't need a Pap test every year!
- The first Pap test is done when a woman turns 21 (even if they completed all necessary doses of the HPV vaccine).
- If results are normal, you may not have to repeat the test for 3 years. Your health care provider will determine how often you need to be tested.
- If results are abnormal, your health care provider will determine how often you need to be tested.
- HPV tests aren't recommended for screening women under 30.
- When you turn 30, you can:
- If your test results are normal, get a Pap test every 3 years OR
- Get both a Pap test and an HPV test every 5 years.
- If either test results are abnormal, your health care provider will determine how often you need to be tested.
- You can stop getting screened if:
- You're older than 65 and have had normal Pap test results for many years.
- Your cervix was removed during surgery for a non-cancerous condition like fibroids.
When cervical cancer is found early, it is treatable and associated with long survival and good quality of life.
Help prevent cervical cancer. Vaccinate your children against HPV infection, and if you are a woman 21 years old or older, get screened regularly!
Click here to learn more about HPV.
Recently-awarded funds will expand public health and first responder collaboration, connecting individuals and families with recovery services following an overdose
BOSTON - Tuesday, December 19, 2017 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh, the Mayor's Office of Recovery Services and the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) today announced the City of Boston will expand the Boson Post-Overdose Response Team (PORT) thanks to a $150,000 award from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH).
The City will enhance the team of public health advocates, harm reduction specialists and first responders, connecting with individuals and families through in-person, home-based outreach following an overdose. The recently-awarded funds will be used to improve coordination between agencies, expand the team's hours to reach even more Boston residents, and monitor and evaluate the program's effectiveness.
"All of us have a role in addressing the opioid epidemic. It takes local officials, first responders and members of the community to work together to implement solutions that will make a real difference, especially for those battling a substance use disorder," said Mayor Walsh. "We're grateful for this funding that will help Boston lead the way in fighting the opioid epidemic by enhancing direct outreach and getting more people into treatment and on the road to recovery."
In the first 12 months of the program, Boston PORT made almost 200 follow-up visits to homes of individuals who experienced an overdose in 14 different neighborhoods. The visits have resulted in multiple substance use disorder treatment placements, improved access to family recovery support services, and provided 100 overdose prevention and naloxone (Narcan) trainings.
"Creating overdose response teams like Boston PORT is one of our recommendations for mayors and policy makers across the country," said Director of the Mayor's Office of Recovery Services Jen Tracey. "It is fundamental to meet people where they are, whether providing support and resources, or addressing conditions of use. Boston PORT is sometimes the first point of contact to engage people in community health services, and we are glad to continue to make it happen with this new funding."
BPHC is one of the three organizations and the only health department selected to support the post-overdose follow-up program. Boston PORT builds on the Fighting Addiction in the Hub (FAITH) Initiative, a cross-sector collaboration which convened BPHC and first-responder agencies to develop a program that provides Boston residents a supportive, informational encounter to introduce recovery services, provide overdose prevention education, and treatment referrals.
"Boston PORT has already had measurable impact on our neighborhoods. Along with colleagues from Boston Police and Boston Fire Departments, our public health staff have been helping people find the services they need when they need them, and linking people to a continuum of services that exist across the City," said BPHC Executive Director Monica Valdes Lupi, JD, MPH. "Preventing and treating substance use disorders is one of BPHC's strategic priorities, and we are exploring new ways to make it easier for residents access critical services."
The Boston Fire Department's Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is the primary first-responder partner for Boston PORT, delivering the in-person intervention in collaboration with BPHC's Bureau of Recovery Services. This group was selected by Boston Fire Department Commissioner Joseph E. Finn for their knowledge and experience in working with the substance use disorder continuum of care and treatment system. The Boston Police Department and Boston EMS are also joint partners of Boston PORT, providing additional outreach and support as needed.
"The Boston Fire Department's primary mission is to save lives. The Post-Overdose Response Team (PORT) continues to support this mission," said Fire Commissioner Joseph E. Finn. "One of PORT's most valuable tools in combating the opioid crisis has been the inclusion of the Boston Fire Department Employee Assistance Program's 'Knock and Talk' initiative where trained firefighters bring counseling and support services to the overdose situation. This initiative is literally saving lives and making a significant impact on the opioid epidemic in Boston."
In 2016, 207 Boston residents died from opioid-related overdoses, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH). Over half of all fatal overdoses in 2016 and year-to-date 2017 occur in homes across all Boston neighborhoods. This program allows an opportunity for public health advocates and first responders to provide overdose prevention education to Boston residents who may not be engaged in services and offer access to a range of recovery support services, including treatment.
"BPHC, Boston Fire and Boston Police all battle this fatal disease daily," said Kim Hanton, director of Addiction Services at North Suffolk Mental Health Association. "This grant provides an opportunity to enhance the PORT by guiding unity, common language and expanding access to resources. We look forward to support this team by providing training and technical assistance, and promoting interdepartmental common understanding."
This award continues Boston's goals to ensure all residents have access to the substance use treatment and support they need. In 2015, Mayor Walsh created the Mayor's Office of Recovery Services
, which works closely with BPHC, other City of Boston departments, state and federal agencies, local service providers, and community networks to build and support recovery services throughout the City.
Since 2015, Mayor Walsh has made substantial investments in response to the opioid crisis, spending at least $14.1 million on services such as residential substance use treatment programs, resources and referrals, risk reduction and overdose prevention, and outpatient treatment. New initiatives have included expanding the staff and hours of the City's access to care program (PAATHS), adding a street outreach team and engagement center for individuals in heavily impacted areas, increasing the capacity of the citywide syringe clean up team, and launching 24/7 recovery support through 311.
Did you know that each year in the United States, 500 people die and 10,000 people seek medical attention for carbon monoxide poisoning?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible gas. You can't see it, smell it, or taste it. It comes from anything that burns fuel such as natural gas, gasoline, oil, wood, or charcoal. Common sources of CO are stoves, fireplaces, cars, space heaters, grills, home heating systems, and clothes dryers.
When you are exposed to too much CO, it is called CO poisoning. CO poisoning can damage the heart, brain, and other organs, or even cause death.
Everyone is at risk for CO poisoning. However, fetuses and babies, people who smoke, people with heart disease, people with breathing problems, children, and the elderly are most at risk. Common symptoms of CO exposure are:
- Feeling drowsy or tired
- Nausea or vomiting
- Difficulty breathing
Every home in Boston is required by law to have a CO detector on every floor and in every apartment. Make sure you have a CO detector and that you test it and change the batteries twice a year. Other steps you can take to stay safe are:
- Don't warm up your car or let it run when it's inside your garage, even if the garage door is open
- Shovel out your car thoroughly (make sure the tailpipe is clear) before starting it and don't sit in a snowed-in car while it warms up
- Never use a grill inside
- Never use a stove or kerosene heater to heat your home
- Maintain all oil- and gas-fired heating systems and appliances with annual cleaning and inspection
- Clear exhaust and intake vents for your furnace and clothes dryer of snow and debris
If your CO detector sounds, leave your house and call 911. Only re-enter your home when a professional says it is safe for you to do so.
Questions? Call the Environmental Health Office at 617-534-5965.
December 3-9, 2017 is National Influenza Vaccination Week! Have you been vaccinated yet?
Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus that infects the nose, throat, and lungs, and can be passed from person to person. Each year, hundreds of people in Boston are affected by it. Pregnant women, small children, the elderly and anyone with a chronic condition, like asthma or heart disease, are at higher risk for severe infection and death. It is also important for pregnant women to get the vaccine to protect their newborns since currently there is no vaccine for babies under the age of six months.
There is still time to get the flu vaccine! The sooner you get vaccinated, the more likely you are to be protected against the flu when activity picks up in your community. Protect yourself and family by getting vaccinated today! In addition to your health care provider's office, many local pharmacies also offer the vaccine.
For more information about the flu, visit www.bphc.org/flu.
The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) is encouraging residents to receive their flu shot this week during National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW), a national awareness week focused on highlighting the importance of influenza vaccination.
BPHC has hosted four flu clinics sponsored by CVS and vaccinated almost 500 people since the beginning of October. Recently, Mayor Martin J. Walsh received an influenza vaccine at the Boston Public Health Commission's (BPHC) annual seasonal influenza clinic in City Hall, leading the way in Boston for prevention through vaccination.
"I get vaccinated against influenza to protect myself and those who are at high risk of complications like young children, pregnant women, seniors, and people with chronic health conditions," said Mayor Walsh. "I encourage everyone in Boston to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their neighbors, too."
It is recommended that everyone 6 months of age and older get an influenza vaccine to be protected. Even people who are not at risk for severe illness can pass the infection to their families, friends and patients, some of whom may be in the high-risk category.
"Getting vaccinated against influenza is important for your own health, and even more so for the health of our community," said BPHC Executive Director Monica Valdes Lupi, JD, MPH. "We are lucky to have a variety of options available, completely covered by health insurance. We encourage residents who were unable to attend today's clinic to seek vaccination through a primary care provider, at their local community health center, or at a pharmacy."
The cost of influenza vaccination is typically covered by health insurance, with little or no co-pay. Those who do not have health insurance or for whom co-pays may be a barrier are encouraged to call the Mayor's Health Line at (617) 534-5050 or 1 (800) 847-0710 for support. For a list of locations administering flu shots, please visit vaccinefinder.org.
Influenza, commonly known as the "flu," is a contagious illness caused by the influenza virus. The viruses that cause influenza live in the nose and throat of infected people. An infected person can spray the germs into the air when he or she sneezes, coughs or talks. The virus is spread to people nearby who can then breathe it in. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.
Symptoms include fever, cough, muscle aches, headache, runny nose, sore throat and general weakness. The onset of these symptoms may be sudden and can range from mild to severe. Influenza symptoms usually start one to four days after a person breathes in the virus, but it can take longer. Most infected people can spread the influenza to others one day before symptoms appear and up to one week after becoming sick.
Most influenza activity in Boston usually occurs from October through April. Although influenza activity remains low in Boston and nationwide, it is unpredictable and can be severe. More than 3,000 cases of influenza were reported in Boston during the 2016-2017 season, with 579 of those cases resulting in hospitalization, and 14 resulting in death. During the peak of the last influenza season, 2.5 percent of all emergency room visits in Boston were due to flu-like illness.
BPHC encourages individuals to take additional precautions to help prevent the spread of germs, including:
Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue every time you cough or sneeze. If you don't have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your upper sleeve.
Cleaning your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
Cleaning surfaces in your home regularly with a household cleaner.
Avoiding close contact with people who are sick when possible.
Staying home when you are sick. A person with influenza should stay home for 24 hours after their fever has gone away without the use of fever reducing medicine. For most people, this will be a minimum of 4 days.
For more tips to stay healthy this influenza season and what to do if you get the flu, visit bphc.org/flu.