Boston pediatric hospitals report ‘increases in patient volume,’ officials urge residents to get flu shots
Pediatric ICUs and children’s hospitals in Boston are reporting “noticeable increases in patient volume,” according to health officials who are urging residents to get their annual flu shot and stay up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccinations.
The Boston Public Health Commission on Tuesday, while promoting flu vaccination clinics in the city, noted that pediatric intensive care units and local children’s hospitals are “already experiencing noticeable increases in patient volume because of the new school year and changes in the weather.”
The health officials are warning that the combo of high rates of COVID-19 and flu could put serious strain on Boston’s health care system, especially emergency care — which is why the Boston Public Health Commission is encouraging residents to get up-to-date on their vaccinations early in the season.
“Getting your annual flu shot is one of the best ways to stay healthy this winter as we prepare to spend more time indoors with friends and family,” said Bisola Ojikutu, commissioner of Public Health and executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission.
“Being vaccinated against the flu and staying up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations are essential for preventing severe illness,” Ojikutu added. “If you get the flu, remember to stay home to avoid spreading it to others and to get plenty of rest and hydration to support your recovery.”
Boston Children’s Hospital, like many hospitals across the country, reported that it’s experiencing high patient volume and an increase in wait times.
“The volume is being driven by higher levels of seasonal and respiratory illness and the ongoing behavioral health crisis,” Boston Children’s Hospital officials said in a statement. “Where possible, we encourage families to first contact their primary care practitioners as they can help determine clinical care and treatment options that potentially avoid long wait times.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and adjust our process as needed to ensure we are protecting the health, safety and well-being of our patients and families as well as our staff,” the hospital staff added.
The most common symptoms of the flu are fever, chills, cough, sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, muscle or body aches, headache, fatigue, and in some cases, vomiting and diarrhea. The flu is highly infectious and can lead to severe illness, hospitalization and death — especially among people 65 and older, pregnant people, people with chronic medical conditions, and children under 5.
Two free flu vaccination clinics will be held at Boston City Hall in Room 801 on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Monday, Oct. 17, from 1 to 5 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome, and free COVID-19 vaccinations will also be available during both clinics.
Appointments to get a flu shot can also be made at local pharmacies, community health centers, doctor’s offices, or at a clinic sponsored by a hospital.
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