By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) – Dr. Mallika Marshall is answering your coronavirus-related medical questions. If you have a question for Dr. Mallika, email her or message her on Facebook or Twitter.

Dr. Mallika is offering her best advice, but as always, consult your personal doctor before making any decisions about your personal health.

“I am over 65 and at high risk; is too soon to get the seasonal flu shot?” – Diane

I would wait until September to get a flu vaccine. You don’t want to get it too early because immunity may not last until the end of flu season, which usually occurs in the spring. But you don’t want to wait too long so that you don’t have protection when flu season begins, usually in October.

“Is requiring all children returning to school to get the flu shot in Massachusetts worth the risks the vaccine poses?” – Lauren on Facebook

The flu vaccine is incredibly safe. Serious side effects are exceptionally rare, and you can’t get the flu from the flu vaccine because the virus is either killed or inactivated. The vaccine will not only help protect kids from getting the flu, which can be deadly in children, it will also help protect their family members and others in the community.

“How does the state calculate the virus infection rating?” – Peter in Charlton

The state takes the total number of positive tests and divides it by the total number of new tests conducted to determine the positive test rate. For the past several days, it has remained at 1.4%, which is a record low.

“A restaurant near us has outside dining. They have a large fan that is blowing air directly at diners. Would this spread COVID-19?” – A viewer

An outdoor fan can provide additional circulation and help disperse any respiratory droplets that enter the air as diners talk and laugh and enjoy their meals. So just like the wind, having a fan outdoors is probably a benefit and not an additional risk.

Dr. Mallika Marshall

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