Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing the spread of respiratory illnesses, like flu, this fall and winter is more important than ever. The flu season traditionally starts in September and ends in April with a peak in cases from January through March. Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated at least 6.4 million flu illnesses, 55,000 hospitalizations, and 2,900 deaths, including 27 pediatric deaths, from the flu nationally.
Based on CDC recommendations, the Bedford Board of Health urges you to take the following three actions to protect against a flu infection:
- Vaccination. A yearly flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting yourself against flu.
- Everyday preventive actions. Try to avoid close contact with sick people. Wash your hands often with soap and water. If you are sick with a flu-like illness, stay home and rest. Cover your nose and mouth when you cough. Because flu-like symptoms can be similar to COVID-19 symptoms, if you have symptoms and have already had the flu vaccine, you should contact your healthcare provider to discuss whether you require a COVID-19 test.
- Treatment. There are anti-viral drugs that can treat influenza. Anti-viral drugs need to be used early to be effective. You can talk to your doctor about prescribing this medication.
These flu clinics will be done via drive-thru (in-vehicle) and an outdoor (under a tent) walk-thru model. These clinics will require on-line registration in advance of attendance at a clinic. The registration process will collect your personal and insurance information via a HIIPA compliant portal. This model for flu clinic registration and vaccine administration will help minimize contact and exchange of paper. Specific instructions will be emailed to you prior that communicate flu clinic expectations.
Provided you meet all the pre-screening requirements on the day of vaccination, vaccination appointments guarantee you a vaccine. However, at your indicated appointment time, vaccines will be distributed in a first-come, first served manner. Rest assured, we have plenty of vaccine so arriving early provides no benefit and may result in a longer wait time. If you receive an appointment confirmation, you will receive a vaccination. To register for a flu immunization appointment date/time, please visit https://www.bedfordma.gov/bedford-board-of-health/pages/flu-clinic-information-community. Walk-ups and unregistered drive-ups will not be served at the drive-thru clinics. If you do not have a vehicle or prefer to walk, please register for the outdoor walk-thru clinic. Also, please continue to check the above registration website for up to date information on clinic offerings as expanded appointment opportunities and additional clinic dates may be added in the future.
The flu clinics are free and open to those who live in work in Bedford and are 6 months of age and older. High dose flu shots are available for those 65 years and older. Please wear clothing that allows for easy access to your arm for vaccine administration. Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. School-based clinics will be scheduled to provide opportunities for Bedford Public School children to be vaccinated in school-based clinics, during the school day. These clinics will be announced in the coming weeks. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Board of Health at 781-275-6507.