A Boston man in his twenties with underlying health conditions is the first death linked to influenza this season in the city, the Boston Public Health Commission announced today.  Since the beginning of October, there have been 122 reported cases of influenza in Boston, resulting in 32 people being hospitalized.

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3D influenza/CDC

“Each death due to seasonal influenza is a tragic loss for a family and for our community,” said Dr. Huy Nguyen, interim executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission.  “This is a reminder for all Boston residents of the seriousness of influenza, especially in vulnerable populations. According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nationwide, deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza has already reached the epidemic threshold.  It’s vital that everyone get vaccinated to protect themselves and to protect their loved ones.”

Certain populations, including the elderly, young children, pregnant women, and people with underlying health conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease, are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill if they get influenza.  Others that might not be at risk for severe illness themselves can still transmit the infection to vulnerable people.

Health officials are asking residents to contact their primary care physician, community health center, or local pharmacy to get vaccinated if they have not already done so.  The vaccine is recommended for everyone six months of age and older, and it must be given on an annual basis as circulating influenza strains change from year to year and last season’s vaccine protection wanes.