January 27, 2009
County Health Official Urges, Still Time to Get Flu Vaccine
If you've ever had influenza, or “the flu,” you know it is far worse than the common cold. And while you lie in bed, exhausted, suffering from fever, body aches and terrible congestion for a week or so, you may not realize that you were one of the lucky ones. Each year, on average, 36,000 Americans die of complications from the flu, and more than 200,000 are hospitalized.
You still have time to take action. The Oswego County Health Department recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step you can take to protect yourself, your loved ones, your co-workers and friends, from this serious disease.
“While flu season typically doesn't peak until February, we are currently seeing increased flu activity in Central New York, so you still may have time to get the flu vaccine and prevent contracting influenza,” recommends Oswego County Director of Public Health Dr. Dennis Norfleet. “There is vaccine available, so contact your health care provider or the Oswego County Health Department about obtaining a dose.”
Many people who are in otherwise good health mistakenly believe that they cannot get the flu, or that if they do, it won't be serious.
But the flu is serious. And it can be particularly dangerous for certain people at high risk, including people 65 and older; people with chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes, cancer, kidney or heart disease; and pregnant women and young children. An otherwise healthy person may be sick in bed for a week with the flu, but passing the flu on to someone in one of these groups could have far more serious consequences.
The flu vaccine protects against the three main flu strains that research indicates will cause the most illness during the flu season. And each year, a new vaccine is produced to keep pace with constantly changing flu viruses. Getting vaccinated can protect people from getting sick from these three viruses or it can make their illness milder if they get a different strain of flu.
“While the timing of the flu season and its severity are unpredictable, flu is certain to be in your community; and the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from this serious respiratory disease is to get a flu vaccine,” Dr. Norfleet warned.
To schedule an appointment for a flu shot, contact the Oswego County Health Department at 349-3547 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3547, register on-line at www.onflu.net/oswego/, or contact your health care provider.
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