Not Too Late for Flu Shots

Increase in Number of Flu Cases Reported - Vaccine Supply is Plentiful

ALBANY - JANUARY 24, 2007 - The New York State Health Department today reminded those New Yorkers who have not already been vaccinated for influenza (flu) that it's not too late to get their annual shot. Influenza activity has been increasing over the past few weeks in New York and surrounding states. To date, influenza has been reported in 37 New York State counties and in the five boroughs of New York City. This year health care providers and local health departments have ample supplies of flu vaccine.

Each year the flu season begins in late October and usually lasts through March or even April or May. Anyone who wants to reduce their risk of the flu should get vaccinated. It takes about two weeks after vaccination to develop immunity against the flu.

Symptoms of influenza are similar to cold symptoms, but come on more swiftly and are more pronounced. Other symptoms can include a fever of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, chills, a severe headache and muscle aches, as well as a cough or sore throat.

Each year in the United States, between 5 and 20 percent of the population is infected with influenza, about 36,000 people die and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized due to complications from influenza.

Those at higher risk for influenza include:

  • Anyone with chronic illnesses such as heart, lung or kidney disease or diabetes;
  • Pregnant women and infants aged six months until their fifth birthday;
  • Residents of nursing homes;
  • People aged 50 years or older; and,
  • Health care workers and caregivers of high risk persons.

If you have been exposed to someone with influenza, or who are experiencing symptoms of influenza, consult with your health care provider immediately to determine if antiviral drugs may be helpful. Treatment with antiviral medications can sometimes lessen the effects of influenza, if treatment is started within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. Antibiotics are not effective against influenza.

Although getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent getting influenza, you can also reduce your risk by washing your hands regularly and disinfecting surfaces, such as desktops and telephones. Eating healthy foods, getting enough rest, and exercise can also help protect against influenza.

For information about a flu clinic in your area, contact your local health department or visit the State Health Department's website for general flu information at www.health.ny.gov.