Boston Declares Public Health Emergency

sick man lying in bed
Boston declared a public health emergency Wednesday as the city tried to deal with a harsh flu season and the state reported 18 flu-related deaths so far.

The city is working with health care centers to offer free flu vaccines and also hopes to set up places where people can get vaccinated. The city said there had been four flu-related deaths, all elderly residents, since the unofficial start of the flu season on Oct. 1.

READ: The New Flu: Are You At Risk?

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said there had been about 700 confirmed cases of the flu in Boston so far this season, compared with 70 all of last season.

Massachusetts was one of 29 states reporting high levels of “influenza-like illness,” according to the most recent weekly flu advisory issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.