OSWEGO – During National Influenza Vaccination Week, Dec. 7 through 13, the Oswego County Health Department is reminding residents that it’s not too late to get vaccinated against the flu. Annual flu vaccination is the first and most important step in protecting against the flu and its potentially serious complications.
“With flu activity increasing and family and friends gathering for the holidays, now is a great time to get a flu vaccine,” said Jiancheng Huang, Public Health Director of the Oswego County Health Department. “The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the most important step to protect you and your family from the flu.”
Although flu is generally considered a mild illness, for some people, getting the flu may mean spending a week in bed. For many, including children under 5 years, people 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, and those with medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma, cancer, heart disease, kidney and liver disorders, HIV/AIDs or blood disorders, flu may cause serious illness, complications like pneumonia, hospitalizations, and even death.
Those in high risk groups should seek medical attention promptly if they begin to experience flu-like symptoms.
“Influenza viruses are constantly changing,” said Huang. “They may change from one season to the next or they can even change within the course of a flu season. It has been reported that the vaccine effectiveness against the circulating strains of flu may be reduced this year, however it is important to remember the flu vaccine still offers the best protection we have against seasonal flu.”
The Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) recommends these three steps to fight the flu:
1. Take time to get the flu vaccine
2. Take everyday preventive actions like covering your cough and sneezes, staying away from sick people and washing your hands often to help stop the spread of respiratory viruses like flu.
3. Take antiviral drugs for flu treatment if your doctor prescribes them.
The Oswego County Health Department still has vaccine available. Adults looking for a flu shot can come to the Oswego County Health Department Office located at 70 Bunner St. in Oswego, Monday through Friday from 9 to 11 a.m. or 1 to 3 p.m. to receive a flu shot.
Parents are asked to bring children for any shots on Tuesday afternoons between 12:30 and 3:30.
In Pulaski, flu shots are available for adults and children at the H. Douglas Barclay Courthouse on the third Tuesday of the month from 9 to 11:30 a.m.
The flu shot costs $37 and is covered by Medicare and Medicaid. Those attending should bring their insurance cards with them.The children’s flu shot costs $37 for the inactivated vaccine and the flu-mist nasal vaccine for children is $43.
The health department accepts cash or checks for payment. The department does not accept credit or debit cards. Patients with private insurance, Managed Medicaid, Managed Medicare, Medicaid, Medicare, and Medicare Part B should bring their benefit cards with them to the immunization clinic.
No one will be turned away due to inability to pay.
For more information on flu vaccine or steps to prevent the flu, contact the Oswego County Health Department weekdays at 349-3547 or visit www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/influenza/seasonal/