The flu has reached epidemic proportions in Boston this season, prompting Mayor Thomas Menino to declare a public health emergency

There have been 700 confirmed cases of the flu and four flu-related deaths in the city of Boston so far, with more than half the season still to go. That’s 10 times the amount of total cases seen last year. 

Menino says everyone needs to help prevent further spread of the flu. 

“The best thing you can do to protect yourself and your family is to get the flu shot,” Menino said. “I’ve had mine. I’m asking you to get yours.” 

The flu shot protects against the AH3 influenza strain, which is aggressively spreading in Boston.  

“We’re providing extra doses of the vaccines to all our partners to accommodate this important campaign,” Menino said. 

Menino advised that people who feel ill should stay home from work to help prevent further spread of the virus, but added he is concerned about the city’s low-wage workers. 

“If they or their children are sick, they have to stay home and miss work,” he said. “This is an economic issue, besides a health issue.”

This weekend, free flu shots will be offered at health clinics across the city.