State Health Commissioner Gets Flu Shot; Urges New Yorkers to Get Theirs

New Flu Season Officially Begins This Week

ALBANY, N.Y. (Oct.4, 2010) – State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., today received his annual seasonal flu shot and urged New Yorkers to get their annual flu vaccine, as the new flu season officially begins this week.

"This year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that everyone six months of age and older get vaccinated against the flu," said Commissioner Daines. "We are already seeing sporadic cases of flu in New York State, so New Yorkers should get vaccinated as soon as they can this fall. Many physicians' offices, clinics, pharmacies and county health departments have supplies of vaccine."

Dr. Daines received his flu shot at Family Medical Group of Northeast Health in Rensselaer.

While flu is unpredictable, experts expect that last season's H1N1 virus as well as two regular seasonal viruses to cause illness this flu season. The new 2010-2011 flu vaccine will protect against three different flu viruses: an H3N2 virus, an influenza B virus, and the H1N1 virus that caused so much illness last season.

During the month of September, clinical laboratories in New York State reported 49 cases of influenza to the New York State Department of Health (DOH). Forty-four of the cases were influenza A, and five cases were influenza B. Most commercial lab tests for influenza A do not distinguish between the H1 or H3 subtypes. Four of the positive flu A specimens were sent to DOH's Wadsworth Center laboratory for sub-typing, which identified three of the cases as H3N2 and one case as H1N1.

Most people who get the flu will have mild to moderate symptoms, will not need medical care or antiviral drugs, and will recover at home in less than two weeks. Some people, however, are more likely to get serious illness and develop flu complications that result in being hospitalized and occasionally result in death. While all New Yorkers six months of age and older are recommended to receive the flu vaccine, certain groups are at especially high-risk for experiencing serious illness and complications from the flu.

People at high risk for developing flu-related complications are:

  • Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old;
  • Adults 50 years of age and older; and adults living in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities;
  • Pregnant women; and,
  • American Indians and Alaskan Natives (based on the experience with H1N1 flu).

People of any age who have certain chronic medical conditions are also more likely to experience serious illness and flu-related complications if they get sick from influenza, including those with asthma, chronic lung disease, heart disease, blood disorders, diabetes and other endocrine disorders, kidney disorders, neurological conditions, those with weakened immune systems due to medication or disease, people younger than 19 years of age who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy, and people who are obese.

Additionally, it's important that all health care workers get vaccinated in order to protect themselves, their families and their patients from influenza.

Most commercial health insurance plans cover flu vaccines. Individuals who lack health insurance or otherwise don't have access to the vaccine can get vaccinated at public clinics held by county health departments. Contact local county health departments for information on scheduled clinics.