OSWEGO COUNTY – This year’s flu season is in full swing!
According to the Oswego County Health Department, 74 lab-confirmed cases of the flu had been reported in Oswego County as of Jan. 23.
More than half of those cases were reported in children 18 years of age or younger. Last week, the number of flu cases reported doubled compared to the number of cases reported the previous week.
The flu can hit everyone hard, especially children, seniors and adults with chronic health conditions, and leave them feeling miserable with symptoms like fever, chills, cough, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, muscle aches, headache, fatigue and sometimes even vomiting and diarrhea.
“The flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from getting the flu,” stated Jodi Martin, Supervising Public Health Nurse for Preventive Services in Oswego County. “The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone six months of age and older get a flu vaccine every year.”
“Flu vaccine not only protects the person being vaccinated, it also helps protect those around you that are unable to be vaccinated due to age or other conditions that prohibit them from receiving the vaccine,” said Martin.
Flu vaccines have excellent safety records.
Millions of Americans have safely received flu vaccine for decades.
Some children between the ages of six months and eight years may require two doses of vaccine. Health officials recommend that parents discuss with their healthcare provider whether their child needs two doses of vaccine to be fully protected.
Flu can take a heavy toll on children. Each year about 20,000 children younger than five years old are hospitalized from flu complications.
For children and adults with chronic health conditions like asthma, neurologic disorders, diabetes, heart disease, or kidney disease, getting a flu vaccine is even more important because they are at increased risk of developing flu complications.
“In addition to the flu vaccine, it is recommended that everyone take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs, like washing your hands, covering your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue, keeping your hands away from your face, and staying away from sick people. If you are sick, limit your contacts with others,” said Senior Public Health Educator Diane Oldenburg. “Those with flu-like symptoms should stay home, unless seeking medical care, until they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.”
The Oswego County Health Department offers flu vaccine every day on a walk-in basis from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. at the Nick Sterio Public Health Clinic, located at70 Bunner St. in Oswego.
Vaccines are also available the third Tuesday of the month by appointment only from 9 to 11 a.m. at the health department office located at the H. Douglas Barclay Courthouse in Pulaski.
The health department only accepts cash or checks for payment. The health department is able to bill the following insurance companies: POMCO, Empire, Fidelis, Excellus/BCBS, United Health Care, Medicare and Medicaid.
For those covered by other insurance providers, the cost will be $41 for the injectable flu vaccine.
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.
All patients should bring their insurance benefit cards with them to the immunization clinic. No one will be turned away due to inability to pay.
For more information contact the Oswego County Health Department weekdays at 315-349-3547.