State Health Commissioner Rolls Up His Sleeve for the Flu Shot, Encourages All New Yorkers to Do the Same

State agency leaders meet with Seniors during 'Capital for a Day' in Syracuse to highlight how serious flu can be for the elderly.

HOMER, N.Y. (October 1, 2015) -- New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker is reminding New Yorkers, that flu season is right around the corner and is urging everyone to get vaccinated, which remains the best protection against the flu.

Dr. Zucker, along with the Director of the New York State Office for the of the Aging, Corinda Crossdale received their flu shots Wednesday at the David Harum Senior Center in Homer, N.Y. Dr. Zucker told seniors at the Center that people 65 years and older are at greater risk of serious complications from the flu compared with young, healthy adults because human immune defenses become weaker with age.

"The flu shot remains one of the most important preventive strategies that you can take to stay well," Dr. Zucker said. "But it's critical for older adults who are more likely to develop complications like pneumonia and sinus infections. That's why we are urging all New Yorkers, especially seniors, to get vaccinated as soon as possible."

"Seasonal flu can be very serious, even deadly for individuals 65 years and older because they are more susceptible to the flu," Said Corinda Crossdale. "The best way for older New Yorkers to prevent the flu is to get the flu shot each year."

Flu season generally runs from October through May. Last year in New York State, there were 11,624 flu-related hospitalizations and six pediatric deaths. Over the last four years, there have been a total of 27 pediatric flu deaths in New York State and an average of more than 7,767 flu-related hospitalizations a year.

Although most flu cases are mild and people will usually recover without complications, the flu poses a more serious risk for individuals younger than two or those over 50, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems or chronic medical conditions.

The State Health Department recommends that all everyone six months of age or older receive a flu vaccination. Those under six months cannot get a flu vaccination. Since the flu virus can spread to family members through coughing or sneezing, it is especially important that family members and people who regularly come in contact with young children or individuals at high risk get a flu shot. In addition, all health care workers should be vaccinated against influenza and other communicable diseases to protect their health and the health of their patients.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has determined the strains of influenza that are most likely to cause illness during flu season. This year's vaccine will protect against an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus, an A/Switzerland/9715293/2013 (H3N2) like virus, a B/Phucket/3073/2013-like virus. Some of this year's vaccines will also protect against an additional B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus. The CDC also works with local and state public health agencies and health care providers to ensure the vaccine meets the highest safety standards.

The Department of Health is launching a public awareness campaign in October reminding New Yorkers that influenza germs are everywhere, and vaccination is the best protection against infection. The campaign will feature TV, radio and digital ads as well as social media and will run October through January.

For additional information about influenza, including how it is monitored in New York State, visit the Department of Health web page at:

A photo from the event is attached.