Health Officials Encourage Residents to Get a Flu Shot
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Monroe County residents today were urged to obtain a flu shot as soon as possible by Deputy Director of the Monroe County Department of Public Health, Nancy M. Bennett, M.D. Bennett, who also directs the Center for Community Health at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said not only is there time, but ample vaccine supply, for anyone who wishes to get immunized.
“Unlike past years, when flu vaccine shortages forced us to ration, this year we have plenty of vaccine to help our community head off a very contagious and deadly illness,” Bennett said. “Yet, for some reason, we’ve heard from physician offices and clinic providers that this year demand has been somewhat slow. It’s important that people take the opportunity to get the vaccine while there’s still time.”
Rochester traditionally has higher than average immunization rates. The latest data indicate about 83 percent of adults 65+ who live in Monroe County received an influenza vaccination in 2005, compared with the national average of just 61 percent.
“We need to continue working as a community to reinforce the benefits of vaccinations in general, and at this time of the year, influenza vaccine specifically,” Bennett added.
Beyond a Cold
While many may consider the flu a bad cold, it can in fact be very lethal. Each year, between five and 20 percent of the U.S. population is infected with influenza. Of those, about 36,000 people die from the flu, and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized because of influenza complications.
A handful of influenza cases have been reported in Monroe County in the past few weeks, though there has yet to be any substantial clustering of such cases. “As it only takes seven to 10 days after a flu shot is given to become effective, there is still time for the flu shot to be the best defense against getting flu this season,” Bennett added.
National Flu Vaccination Week, which runs from Nov. 27 to Dec. 3, is being held across the country as a way to continue to educate the public about the importance of obtaining flu vaccines. This year, 110-115 million doses of influenza vaccine – a record number – will be manufactured, and distribution continues into December.
In the next two weeks, the University of Rochester’s School of Nursing’s Center for Nursing Entrepreneurship and the Health Department will hold several public flu clinics (see next page). Or, residents can call their physician’s office to arrange for the vaccination.
Date Time Location
November 29 9 am - 12 pm Hegedorn’s – 964 Ridge Road, Webster
November 29 1 - 6 pm Brighton Fire Department on the corner of East and Elmwood Ave., Brighton
November 30 1 - 6 pm YMCA in Canandaigua – Main St., Canandaigua
December 1 1 - 6 pm Gates Fire Department – 2355 Chili Avenue, Gates
December 7 9 am - 1 pm Rochester Public Market, Central Ave. Rochester
Medicare, Excellus and Preferred Care managed care products cover the cost of receiving a flu shot; insurance ID cards are necessary for proof of insurance. Otherwise, there is a $30 fee for the vaccine. Center for Nursing Entrepreneurship clinics are for people nine years and older. Children under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. A list of remaining public health clinics, along with detailed information on the flu, can be obtained at www.monroecounty.gov or by calling 753-5600. Information on the School of Nursing’s clinics can be found at www.rochesterflu.org/, or by calling 275-4816.
Background on Influenza
The flu, or influenza, is a respiratory illness that is easily spread from person to person. Symptoms include: fever, sore throat, muscle ache, chills and headache. It can affect healthy adults and children, as well as preying on infants and the elderly, making vaccination a smart choice for anyone wishing to avoid becoming sick—or spreading illness at home, the office, or on holiday visits with friends and family. Flu vaccine is especially recommended for those 50 and older, those with chronic illnesses, pregnant women, children 6 months until their 5th birthday, health care workers, and household contacts and caregivers of high-risk persons.
Peak influenza activity in Rochester usually occurs from late December through March. A new flu shot is developed each year based upon the strains of flu expected to be circulating. In addition to getting a flu shot, health officials stress other preventive measures such as thorough and frequent hand washing and staying home if ill with respiratory symptoms, to prevent exposing others.
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