Office for the Aging notes benefits of flu shot

Published Oct 10, 2017 at 4:00pm

The state’s Department of Health and Office for the Aging is reminding all New Yorkers that anyone over 6 months of age should get a flu vaccination to protect themselves and others during the upcoming flu season. Flu season usually starts in October and continues through May.

People 65 years and older, people with certain chronic medical conditions, young children and pregnant women are among those athighest risk for serious flu complications, which may require hospitalization and result in death. Since the flu virus can spread through coughing or sneezing, it is especially important for family members and people who have regular contact with high-risk individuals to be vaccinated.

“The single best way to protect against the influenza virus is to get a flu shot every year,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker. “The flu is easily transmitted from person to person and can cause serious complications that may require hospitalization. Getting vaccinated even when you’re not at high-risk will protect family and friends.”

“It is very important for all New Yorkers, especially older adults, to get vaccinated against the flu,” said Office for the Aging Acting Director Greg Olsen. “Immune systems are more easily compromised as we age, and older adults, especially those with chronic health conditions, have an increased risk of developing seriouscomplications from the flu. Getting the flu vaccine helps prevent the spread of the virus and offers vital protection for older adults and their caregivers.”

The flu can cause mild to severe illness. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea. People infected with the flu may have respiratory symptoms without a fever.

Last year in New York State, there were 12,912 flu-related hospitalizations and eight pediatric deaths. Over the last four years, there have been a total of 25 pediatric flu deaths in New York State and an average of 10,571 flu-related hospitalizations each year.

In addition to getting a flu shot, practice good hand-hygiene:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds to protect yourself from germs and avoid spreading them to others.
  • Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to use when soap and water are not available. Choose a product with at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Do not cough or sneeze into your hands. Instead, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those over 65 should take additional precautions:

  • Seek medical advice early to see if you need treatment with antiviral drugs. These medications are most effective when given early.
  • Get a pneumococcal vaccine. People who are 65 years of age and older and get the flu are at risk for developing pneumonia.

For additional information about influenza, visit www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/influenza/seasonal.