Protect Yourself and Your Family from Flu

OSWEGO – Influenza is impacting all of Central New York, with many counties reporting historic numbers of flu cases already.

“Oswego County has received reports of over 700 cases of influenza since October,” reported Jiancheng Huang, Public Health Director for Oswego County.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age or older, as the most important step to protecting you and your family from the flu.

“Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent the flu,” said Judy Lester, supervising public health nurse with the Oswego County Health Department. “This year there is so much flu out in the community that your likelihood of being exposed is increased, so it’s important to remember to take everyday preventive actions in addition to getting a flu shot to protect yourself and others from getting sick.”

Those preventive actions include:

Cover your coughs and sneezes. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw away the used tissue, and then wash your hands. If a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into your sleeve, not your hands. Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or sleeve helps prevent the spread of flu virus through the air and by the hands. Wearing a surgical mask when you are sick may also help lower the chances of spreading illness to others.

Wash your hands. Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol to clean hands. It is especially important to avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth to prevent the spread of germs. Washing hands lowers the amount of flu virus that may spread when shaking hands or touching surfaces and objects, such as desks and doorknobs.

Stay home when you are sick.  If you get sick, it is important to stay home so that you can get better quickly and not spread germs to others. If you get a fever, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of medicine that lowers fever. This will help ensure that your fever is truly gone and that you are past the point where you are likely to spread germs to others.

Keep your distance. Stay at least six feet away from sick people. Flu droplets can travel up to six feet, so keeping this distance from sick people can help lower your chance of becoming sick. Avoid places where a lot of people gather, such as concerts, festivals, and sporting events.

Clean surfaces and objects routinely. Routinely clean surfaces and objects that are touched often, including desks, doorknobs, railings, computer keyboards, and phones. Soap and water is all you need to kill flu viruses. A bleach and water solution or disinfectant with a label that says “EPA-approved” for killing bacteria and viruses can also be used to remove and kill germs other than flu. Always follow directions on product labels.

“Flu viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person through coughing and sneezing,” said Diane Oldenburg, senior public health educator with the Oswego County Health Department. “Flu viruses also may spread when people touch something with flu virus on it and then touch their mouth, eyes, or nose. Many other viruses spread these ways too. Everyday preventive actions can help slow the spread of germs that can cause many different illnesses, including the flu.”

The Oswego County Health Department still has flu 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 Tuesdays, between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m.

Flu shots are available in Pulaski, for adults and children, at the Pulaski Courthouse on the first and third Tuesdays of the month from 9 to 11 a.m.

The cost of a flu shot is $37 and is covered by Medicare and Medicaid.

Those attending should bring their insurance cards with them.

For more information on flu vaccine or steps to prevent the flu, contact the Oswego County Health Department at 349-3547 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3547.