BOSTON (FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) Boston's public health commissioner says more than 6,000 people got flu shots at nearly two dozen free clinics across the city, after officials announced that a child died after being diagnosed with the flu.
Dr. Barbara Ferrer says there were long lines at the clinics Saturday. More free clinics are scheduled for Sunday and the upcoming week.
Concerned residents took advantage of the free clinics offered by 22 community health centers across the city this weekend. More than 700 vaccinations had been given out at the East Boston Neighborhood Health center by 12 p.m. Saturday.
"I think with kids in daycare, and pre-school now, and they're in the environment that they're in, I think they need to be vaccinated and protected," says Amy Coppers-Constantino of Winthrop.
On Friday, health officials in Boston announced that a 6-year-old girl had the flu when she died earlier this week. They couldn't say the child's cause of death was the flu until further tests are completed.
Five adults over the age of 65 have also died in the city this flu season. A total of 18 people with the flu have died across the state.
Hospitals are continuing to see a spike in visits from patients who have the flu, many of them children.
"In the month of December, we had a doubling of the number of children seen in our pediatric sick clinic and a very significant increase in the number of patients coming into our emergency department and the clinicians are telling us that many of them have the flu," says Dr. Mari Bentley, Chief Medical Officer at the East Boston Medical Center.
Dr. Bentley says that the pediatric sick clinic saw a thousand more patients in Dec. 2012 than they did in Dec. 2011.
State health officials have reported about 6,000 laboratory-confirmed flu cases in Massachusetts, with over 700 confirmed in Boston.
Officials say this year's vaccine is 60-percent effective and they recommend that everyone head to a free clinic, contact their local pharmacy, or contact their physician to receive the shot.
To see a calendar of free clinics in Boston: bphc.org.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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