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January 12, 2018

Flu is on the Rise, Get Vaccinated - It's Not Too Late

Flu activity is picking up in Oswego County! If you or your loved ones have not received a flu vaccine yet, get vaccinated today. Across New York State, cases of flu increased by 66 percent for the week ending Dec. 30, compared to the previous week. In Oswego County the number of flu cases have increased 18.75 percent from the last week of December, through the end of the first week in January.

"We fully expect to see this increase continue in the coming weeks. Flu activity is unpredictable; however, cases of flu are widespread across Central New York State and we are seeing an increase in cases reported in Oswego County as well," said Jodi Martin, Supervising Public Health Nurse with the Oswego County Health Department. "Getting a flu shot now can still protect you from illness this season, even though the season has already started," added Martin.

Influenza vaccine effectiveness can vary from year to year and among different age and risk groups. In general, the current flu vaccines tend to work better against influenza B and influenza A(H1N1) viruses and offer lower protection against influenza A(H3N2) viruses.

"Currently in New York State, all three of these strains of flu viruses are circulating, so it's important to take advantage of the protection the vaccine does offer," stated Martin. In addition, flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization, including among children and older adults, and flu vaccination also may make your illness milder if you do get sick."

The flu is a contagious respiratory disease that can lead to serious complications, hospitalization, or even death. Everyone, six months of age and older, is recommended to get vaccinated against the flu every year.

"The vaccine is especially important for people aged 65 and older, who are more likely to develop complications such as pneumonia," stated Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang.

Those experiencing flu like symptoms should contact their healthcare providers to discuss the need for antiviral medications, this is particularly important for those at high risk for complications from the flu such as children younger than age two and adults 65 years of age and older, those with chronic health conditions like asthma, cardiovascular disease, renal disease, are immune compromised, neurologic disorders, diabetes, cerebral palsy, women who are pregnant, and those that are morbidly obese (BMI of 40 or greater).

"Getting the flu vaccine is easy, and it's the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your family from the flu," stated Diane Oldenburg, Senior Public Health Educator with the Oswego County Health Department. "In addition, everyone should use these everyday health habits that can help prevent the spread of flu and other respiratory illnesses," added Oldenburg:

Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor's offices, health departments, pharmacies, health centers, as well as by many employers.

The Oswego County Health Department offers flu shots Monday through Friday from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. at the office located at 70 Bunner St., Oswego. No appointment is needed. In addition, flu shots are available the third Tuesday of every month from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Health Department offices in the H. Douglas Barclay Courthouse in Pulaski. Appointments are required for the Pulaski clinic.

Those planning to visit one of these locations should bring immunization records and all insurance cards with them. The cost of the influenza vaccination is $41 for both adults and children and $66 for anyone over 65 years of age requesting the High Dose Flu Vaccine.

The health department only accepts cash or checks for payment. The department accepts all POMCO plans, Empire, Excellus BCBS, Fidelis, United Health Care (only Medicare and Medicaid plans), Medicaid, and Medicare. For those covered by other insurance providers, the health department will provide a receipt that may be submitted to an insurance provider for possible reimbursement. For those who are uninsured, the county health department may be able to provide the vaccine at a reduced rate. No one will be turned away due to inability to pay.

Protect yourself from the flu and get vaccinated today if you haven't already-it's not too late! To make an appointment for the Pulaski clinic, and for more information about the flu or getting a flu shot, contact the Oswego County Health Department at 315-349-3547.


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