Will Boston Get Hit Hard By Flu Season?

BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- As officials across the nation warn of an especially nasty flu season, it appears that Boston and Massachusetts haven't hit the high number of cases seen in other states.

Dr. Paul Sax, Clinical Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women's Hospital, told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 that confirmed cases of flu are running a bit higher than previous years, but not to the degree seen in other states. 

"The actual number of cases that we've seen so far isn't that much higher than what we've seen in previous years," Dr. Sax said. "There has been more of what's called 'Influenza-like illness,' so people with fever and cough."

In some cases, officials are worried because of the combination of a rough flu season and a shortage of IV bags.

While some reports said this season's flu shot may not be as effective as previous years' shots, Dr. Sax still highlighted the benefits of getting one.

"There is reasonably good evidence that people who get the flu shot and then get the flu--because it doesn't protect them 100 percent--it keeps them from getting the most severe manifestations of the illness," Dr. Sax said. "We still strongly recommend it, despite the fact that estimates on how effective it's going to be are somewhat lower than previous years."

Dr. Sax would not make a prediction on whether or not flu season would slam Massachusetts the way it has other parts of the country.

"There's a way that you can be wrong in my field, infectious disease, and that's to try to predict the severity of the flu season before it actually happens--that's a fool of a game," Dr. Sax said. "It is pretty common, though, that when it starts increasing in other areas around the United States, that it then eventually becomes widespread." 

"I do think we are going to see a rise in flu activity, even in Massachusetts, even in Boston," he added. "How bad the season's going to be overall, we just don't know."

Listen to Dr. Sax:

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