Officials urge public to get flu shots now

Don’t wait. Get a flu shot now.

That is the message from public health officials in Boston and Dorchester to seniors, school-age children and— in fact— everyone. Massachusetts is still only showing “minimal” influenza-like illness activity, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. But it is best to get a flu shot by the end of October, since flu activity generally picks up in the late fall. In three-quarters of the 36 flu seasons from 1982-83 through 2017-18, peak flu activity has not occurred until January or later, the CDC said.

Codman Square Health Center has been administering flu shots to patients since Sept. 14, according to Sandra Cotterell, CEO and president of Codman. She herself has received her shot and says that people in the neighborhood should make a plan now to get it done sooner rather than later.

“The vaccine is available and we encourage everyone to take it this year. We’re hoping to get everyone immunized,” she said. “With covid, we want to make sure if people are vaccinated for the flu and they do get sick, it’s one less screening that we have to worry about.”

Cotterell says she is advising people in her own home and office to get the vaccine now, before the colder weather sets in and demand gets bigger.

Gov. Charlie Baker has ordered that all students in Massachusetts, from pre-school to college, and kids who participate in child care programs, must get their flu vaccine by the end of 2020.

Baker made the order based on concerns of “having the flu and COVID-19 surge in the Commonwealth at exactly the same time,” which he said “would be an incredibly difficult situation for [health officials] to manage their way through and they urged us to step up our game.”

The governor got a flu shot on Sept. 17 at a CVS store in Roslindale. Flu shots are available at most local pharmacies. (It’s best to call ahead.) You can also call your community health center to schedule an appointment. Codman is offering flu clinics at its Washington Street facility on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. If you are not currently a patients— or have a question— call ahead to 617-822-8271 and schedule an appointment.

Massachusetts is slated to receive 1.156 million doses of flu vaccine this year, a 28 percent increase over the 900,000 that the state orders for a typical flu season, according to a report from State House News Service.

Cotterell said Tuesday that testing continues for Covid-19 at Codman, but said the positive rate “is well below” the 4 percent statistic that might trigger more concern.

“We are going to continue to monitor it, but we’re not seeing any concerns right now, but that could dramatically change as people start to come together in larger groups,” said Cotterell.

State House News Service reports contributed to this article.