2002-12-21 / Community

Elderly Urged To Get Flu Shot

Elderly Urged To Get Flu Shot

Elderly Urged To Get Flu Shot

Seniors are urged to protect themselves this winter by getting a flu shot from their doctor or at walk-in clinics or senior citizens citywide, notes Edwin Mendez-Santiago, Commissioner of the New York City Department for the Aging.

"Now that flu season is here, seniors should be especially careful, since those at high risk for serious influenza include anyone aged 65 or older," said Commissioner Mendez-Santiago. "Pneumonia and influenza are among the top 10 causes of death for older adults. No one should die for lack of simple flu or pneumonia shot, especially since they are free and readily available in New York City."

The Department for the Aging (DFTA) has been working with its community partners, other city agencies, and community leaders to raise awareness about the importance of influenza vaccination, especially in minority communities.

Earlier in the fall, as part of its ongoing series of citywide senior wellness forums in collaboration with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, DFTA offered an informational and educational presentation on flu and pneumonia at senior centers in every borough.

In an effort to help close the health gap in the city’s low-income neighborhoods, DFTA and the Health Department are joining together again in a series of Leadership Breakfasts, led by Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Harlem to formulate with community leaders a plan of action to raise awareness of the importance of influenza vaccination.

"Our rates of vaccination coverage are lower than the national average, especially in our minority communities," said Commissioner Mendez-Santiago. "the health impact of flu and pneumonia in this country and city are greatly understated. We have to do all we can to prevent needless hospitalizations and deaths of our elderly and New Yorkers of all ages and colors."

For each year’s flu season, a new shot is needed because flu viruses can change rapidly and new strains may emerge. Because persons at high risk for the flu are also generally at high risk for contracting pneumonia, it is recommended that people over the age of 65 and those with underlying medical conditions get the pneumonia vaccine as well. Unlike the flu shot, the pneumonia vaccine generally provides long-term protection, and does not need to be administered annually.

Older New Yorkers are advised to get a flu shot in one of these easy ways:

1. Department for the Aging senior centers offer free flu and pneumonia shots. For information about your nearest senior center that’s offering shots, call 212-442-1000, or log onto the Department’s web site at www.nyc.gov/aging.

2. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene offers free information to New Yorkers at walk-in clinics throughout the city. The Health and Hospital Corporation is currently offering flu shots at their hospitals and Communicare clinic sites as well. Call the City’s Flu Information Line (1-866-FLU-LINE) or visit their web site at nyc.gov/health/flu.

3. Visit your doctor or clinic. Both Medicare and Medicaid cover flu shots.

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