Health Officials Urge People to get Vaccinated for Flu

OSWEGO COUNTY – The Oswego County Health Department reports that flu activity is increasing in Oswego County.
Health officials said the number of flu cases increased 59% between the week ending Jan. 5 and the week ending Jan. 12.
“If you or your loved ones have not received a flu vaccine yet, get vaccinated today,” said Jodi Martin, Supervising Public Health Nurse for the Oswego County Health Department.
Across New York State, flu has been widespread for six weeks.
“We fully expect to see this increase continue in the coming weeks,” said Martin. “Flu activity is unpredictable; however, cases of flu are widespread across Central New York State and we are seeing an increase in cases reported in Oswego County as well.”
Martin said approximately three quarters of the cases of flu identified in Oswego County are influenza B strains.
“This is concerning because B strains tend to cause more severe illness in young children,” added Martin.
“Getting a flu shot now can still protect you from illness this season, even though the season has already started,” said Diane Oldenburg, Senior Public Health Educator for Oswego County. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccinating everyone age six months and older. It’s not too late to get a flu shot since we expect flu season to last several more months.”
Influenza vaccine effectiveness can vary from year to year and among different age and risk groups.
“Currently in New York State, both A and B strains of flu viruses are circulating, so it’s important to take advantage of the protection the vaccine does offer,” said Martin. “In addition, flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization, including among children and older adults. Flu vaccination also may make your illness milder if you do get sick.”
The flu is a contagious respiratory disease that can lead to serious complications, hospitalization, or even death.
It’s recommended that everyone age six months and older be vaccinated against the flu every year.
Those experiencing flu like symptoms should contact their healthcare providers to discuss the need for antiviral medications.
This is particularly important for those at high risk for complications from the flu, such as children younger than age two and adults age 65 and older, those with chronic health conditions like asthma, cardiovascular disease, renal disease, compromised immune systems, neurologic disorders, diabetes, cerebral palsy, women who are pregnant, and those who are morbidly obese (BMI of 40 or greater).
“Getting the flu vaccine is easy, and it’s the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your family from the flu,” said Oldenburg. “In addition, everyone should use everyday health habits that can help prevent the spread of flu and other respiratory illnesses.”
– Wash hand frequently
– Cover coughs and sneezes
– Stay home if you are sick
– Stay away from people who are sick
– Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor’s offices, health departments, pharmacies, health centers, as well as by many employers.
The Oswego County Health Department still has vaccine available.
Flu shots are available Monday through Friday from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. at 70 Bunner St. in Oswego.
No appointment is needed.
(The office will be closed Monday, Jan. 20 for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.)
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.
Please call the health department at 315-349-3547 to schedule an appointment in Pulaski.
Flu shots for children and adults cost $36 and are covered by Medicaid and most insurances.
High-dose vaccine is available for seniors aged 65 years and older; the cost $66 and is covered by Medicare.
All patients should bring their insurance benefit cards with them to the immunization clinics.
The health department can bill UMR (Pomco Select only), Excellus BCBS, Fidelis, United Health Care (Community Plan only) and Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicaid, and Medicare.
For those covered by other insurance providers, the health department will provide a receipt that may be submitted to an insurance provider for possible reimbursement.
For those who are uninsured, the department may be able to provide the vaccine at a reduced rate.
No one will be turned away due to inability to pay.
“Protect yourself from the flu and get vaccinated today if you haven’t already! It’s not too late!” said Oldenburg.
For more information about the flu or getting a flu shot, contact the Oswego County Health Department weekdays at 315-349-3547.
For more information about flu virus and symptoms, visit the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm.