(NEWSER) – Move Boston to the top of the list of cities getting slammed by this year's unusually severe flu. The city declared a public health emergency today, reports theBoston Herald. Officials made the move in part to encourage residents to get flu shots, and the city was working with health care centers to dole out free vaccinations, reports AP. Four deaths have been reported, all elderly residents, along with 700 confirmed cases. In all of last season, the city had just one death and 70 cases. Massachusetts overall has had 18 deaths so far, one of 29 states reporting higher-than-normal numbers of flu cases, according to the CDC.