State Health Commissioner Gets Annual Flu Shot, Urges Flu Vaccine for All New Yorkers to Reduce Illness

NEW YORK, N.Y. (Oct. 30, 2008) - State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., today received his annual flu shot at the Roberto Clemente Center in Manhattan and urged all New Yorkers to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their families from the flu. Those especially encouraged to get vaccinated include: children ages six months to 18 years, anyone over 50 years old, persons with chronic health conditions, and all health care workers. Through October 25, the State Health Department has already received 13 sporadic reports of confirmed flu in five counties across the state: Bronx, Kings, New York, Suffolk and Nassau.

"Tragically, last year, there were a total of eight deaths reported in children under age eight, including five from New York City that were attributed to the flu in New York State. These needless deaths illustrate how important it is to contact your health care provider to get a flu shot," Commissioner Daines said. "Influenza is a serious disease that contributes to 36,000 deaths each year and more than 200,000 hospitalizations in the United States."

This year the state Health Department is making a special effort to promote the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendation that all infants, children, and adolescents ages 6 months through 18 years receive the flu vaccine. A state Health Department poster "New Flu Guidelines!" is being distributed statewide to local health departments as part of the department's flu prevention campaign. Additionally, the "You need a flu shot. Or the flu spray." brochure is available on the Department's Web site in English and in Spanish.

Flu is most serious for younger children, especially for those under 5 years old. Children and adolescents are more likely to get flu and can pass it on to the elderly and others at high risk for serious complications. Complications from flu can be life- threatening for the elderly, pregnant women, and those with underlying medical conditions. During last year's flu season the Department received 282 reports of flu-related outbreaks in nursing homes and hospitals throughout the state.

According to the CDC, there will be over 143 million doses of vaccine available this flu season, a record for the most ever distributed in the U.S. during a single influenza season.

This year's influenza vaccine contains three strains of flu virus including A/Brisbane (H1N1), A/Brisbane (H3N2), and B/Florida. It's important to get a flu shot every year since the viruses that cause flu often change from year to year.

Symptoms of influenza resemble those of a cold, but come on much more swiftly and are more pronounced. A person who has the flu usually has a fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, chills, a severe headache and muscle aches, as well as a cough or sore throat.

Those at highest risk for flu complications and most likely to get or spread the flu:

  • Children aged 6 months up to18 years;
  • Anyone 50 years of age and older, with or without chronic health conditions;
  • Residents of long-term care facilities;
  • Adults and children with chronic health conditions such as asthma or heart disease;
  • Pregnant women;
  • Health care personnel;
  • Household contacts and caregivers of children under 5 years of age and adults 50 years of age and older; and
  • Household contacts and caregivers to persons with medical conditions that put them at higher risk for severe complications from influenza.

To find the nearest clinics to get vaccinated contact your local health department at http://www.nyhealth.gov/nysdoh/lhu/map.htm. Information about flu vaccination clinics is also posted online by the state Office for the Aging at http://www.flu.state.ny.us.

Please visit the Department of Health Web site for more information about the flu at http://www.nyhealth.gov.

New Flu Guidelines poster