Dr. Paul Biddinger, medical director for emergency preparedness at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said to get the flu shot early and don't wait for an outbreak in your area. It takes two weeks for the influenza vaccine to become effective to fight the flu.
Biddinger was on the frontlines in Boston during last year's severe flu outbreak that caused the city to declare a public health emergency after 700 diagnoses and four deaths in early January. Boston's emergency departments, like so many across the country, were stretched beyond capacity dealing with influenza cases.
"Last year started with an especially early season with a large number of severe cases presenting together over a short time, but every year we see many patients in our emergency department who struggle to fight off influenza," Biddinger said in a statement. "Don't wait until you hear about an outbreak in your area."