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Posted by Sandra Smole, Ph.D. Sandy is the Director of the Division of Molecular Diagnostics and Virology at the Bureau of Laboratory Sciences. 

Did you know, each flu season the State Lab’s Influenza Unit test hundreds of samples sent in from doctor’s offices and health clinics across the state to see if they contain flu virus.  The tests they perform allow the scientists at the Lab to know what influenza strains are circulating in Massachusetts and whether or not these strains are covered by the current vaccine.  This information is then shared with the CDC who uses this data to help decide what strains will be in next year’s vaccine. 

In addition, this information collected by the Lab helps the DPH Immunization Program monitor the flu situation in Massachusetts, help control outbreaks and work to prevent illness and deaths in vulnerable populations.  We pay particularly close attention to the situation in hospitals, nursing homes and other long term care facilities, where flu can be especially contagious and dangerous.

For more information about the flu, visit www.mass.gov/flu

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