WEST SPRINGFIELD — Spring may be in the air, but cases of the flu and flu-like illnesses are on the rise in Massachusetts, according to the state Department of Public Health’s weekly flu report, and the state is now entering peak flu season. But it’s not too late to get protected, say the doctors at AFC Urgent Care, the largest urgent-care provider in the Commonwealth.
“If you still haven’t received your flu shot, it’s not too late,” said Dr. Vincent Meoli, regional medical director of AFC Urgent Care, adding that plenty of the vaccine is available at the Springfield and West Springfield locations. “Flu season peaks in February and March, but continues into May.”
While getting a flu shot is the most effective means of preventing the flu and protecting those around you, he noted, there are other steps you can take to reduce your risk:
• Wash your hands frequently. The flu spreads easily from person to person through droplets of saliva and mucus, and the virus can live for a short time on items you touch, like doorknobs, counters, phones, and faucets.
• Avoid touching your face to reduce the chance of transferring the virus to your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Clean all surfaces regularly, especially if you are around someone with the flu.
Flu symptoms typically include fever, cough, and sore throat, as well as body aches, chills, headaches, runny nose, and exhaustion. They usually last a week or more.
The flu is a respiratory disease caused by a virus, so antibiotics are not an effective treatment. There are newer medications that can help shorten the duration and severity of the flu if started at the first signs, so seeking care at the first sign of symptoms is key.