Oswego County Public Information Office, 46 East Bridge St., Oswego, NY 13126

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Dec. 2, 2005

Kids Need their Flu Shots, Too

No parent wants to see his or her child sick, especially with a serious disease like influenza. Influenza, which is often called the "flu," is a viral infection of the nose, throat, bronchial tubes and lungs. Influenza can cause serious illness in very young children, the elderly, and anyone who has a weakened immune system or other chronic illness.

Kathleen Smith, Oswego County Commissioner of Health Services, said children ages six to 23 months, and children with chronic illness, should be vaccinated against the flu if they haven't already received their flu shot.

"The children's flu shot is recommended for all healthy infants age 6 months through 23 months and children ages 2 years through 18 who have a chronic medical condition, such as asthma or diabetes," said Smith. "Any healthy child between the ages of 2 and 18 can also receive a flu shot."

The children's flu shot is available from area pediatricians, family physicians, and at county immunization clinics from 9 to 11 a.m. Fridays at the H. Douglas Barclay Courthouse in Pulaski and from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Fridays at the Nick Sterio Public Health Clinic, 70 Bunner St., Oswego. Children do not need appointments for the influenza shot at the county health department's immunization clinics.

There is a $15 fee for children to receive the flu vaccine. Smith said no one would be turned away due to his or her inability to pay.

"Children in the 6- to 23-month age bracket have the same chance of being hospitalized with complications from influenza as their grandparents do," said Dr. Dennis Norfleet, Medical Director for the Oswego County Health Department. "Influenza also threatens the health of children who have serious medical problems, like asthma and diabetes."

Anyone who is in close contact with children under age 2, or with children who have serious medical problems, should get vaccinated against influenza every year to prevent spreading the flu. This group includes parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, and caregivers.

Dr. Norfleet said people should be immunized against the influenza virus every year. "Last year's influenza vaccine won't protect people from this year's flu," he said.

Children between the ages of six months and nine years, who have never been immunized with influenza vaccine, will need two doses, given one month apart.

Health officials said it is not possible to get influenza from the injectable influenza vaccine, because the vaccine is made with inactivated, or killed, virus.

Adults can receive the influenza vaccine by appointment at the county immunization clinics. People who are covered by Medicaid or Medicare should bring their benefit card with them to their flu clinic appointment. All others will be charged $30 for the vaccine.

For more information or to make an appointment, call the Oswego County Health Department, phone 349-3547 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3547, between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays.

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