2007-10-26 / Community

DOH Urges Flu Shots For At-Risk Residents

As the flu season descends on several U.S. states, the Health Department is warning New Yorkers that influenza is a deadly disease and urging all New Yorkers to get a flu shot. The Health Department announced today that flu shots are now available, free of charge, at all of its clinics. Vaccine is in good supply this year, and no shortages have been reported. More information on where to get a flu shot is available by calling 311.

Influenza and pneumonia constitute the third-leading cause of death in New York City, following heart disease and cancer, killing nearly 3,000 New Yorkers every year. While influenza is not life-threatening for everyone, it poses severe risks to the infirm, the very young, and the elderly. That's why it is so critical that these people and all those around them get vaccinated. During the 2005-2006 influenza season, only 59 percent of New Yorkers over age 65 got flu shots. And only 33 percent of health care workers, who often work with the sick and elderly, got the shot.

"Get a flu shot and save a life," said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, Health Commissioner for New York City. "It may be your mom, dad, or grandma that you protect, or it could be you. Now is the time to protect yourself and those who may be more vulnerable to the influenza. Call your doctor or call 311 today, for information on the Health Department's immunization clinics."

Who should get a flu shot?

Everyone who wants to reduce the risk of influenza should get a shot this year. It is especially important that the following groups get flu shots, because they are at especially high risk of complications and death:

* Adults age 50 and over - especially those over 65;

* People with chronic medical conditions;

* Health care workers;

* Children from age 6 months up to 5 years; and

* Pregnant women.

Influenza has already been reported this season in California, Florida, Minnesota, Indiana and several other states. This influenza season, more than 25 million Americans will get sick. Of these, more than 200,000 - many of them young children and the elderly - will be hospitalized for influenza-related complications. And approximately 36,000 will die of complications from influenza.

Free flu shots are available at Health Department clinics in each borough. No appointment is necessary. Any New Yorker can call 311 for clinic locations, or use the flu locator online at https://a816-health 12ssl.nyc.gov/dohroot/prjFlp/.

New York City's Health and Hospitals Corporation is also offering free and low-cost flu shots at public hospitals throughout the city.

For information, visit www.nyc. gov/html/hhc/html/services/flushots. shtml.

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