2008-02-01 / Community

DOH Urges Flu Shots For At-Risk Residents

Influenza season is underway in New York City, and the disease is spreading across the city, the Health Department reported today. New York City residents who have not yet gotten a flu shot should get one now. Emergency department visits for influenza related symptoms have increased 19 percent since November, and there have been confirmed outbreaks in city nursing homes over the same period.

"Influenza is here, but it is not too late to protect yourself and your family," said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, Health Commissioner for New York City. "Influenza can be deadly for older people and young children. New Yorkers should call their doctor about getting a flu shot today or call 311 to find out where to get a free shot. For those who get influenza, covering your cough and staying home if you have a fever will help prevent the spread of illness."

Not only does the flu shot reduce your risk of hospitalization and death from influenza, but it protects family members. Elderly people who are exposed to sick caretakers are much more likely to die during flu season. That is why it is so critical that the infirm, the very young, the elderly and all those around them get vaccinated.

Everyone who wants to reduce the risk of influenza should get a shot this year - vaccine is in good supply. 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 the age of 65;

Children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years;

People with chronic medical conditions;

Health care workers; and Pregnant women.

Influenza Facts

* Influenza can be dangerous at any age. It is a leading cause of death among people 65 and older and kills thousands of New Yorkers every year.

* You cannot get influenza from a flu shot.

* The flu shot is very safe and highly effective in preventing influenza.

* Influenza is not a cold. It is much more severe, appearing suddenly and lasting a week or longer. Symptoms include cough, fever and body aches.

To prevent the spread of influenza:

* Cover your cough or sneeze - and dispose of the tissue afterward. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve.

* Wash your hands after you cough or sneeze with soap and warm water for 20 seconds.

* If you get the flu, stay home from work or school to protect others.

Influenza outbreaks have occurred as late as May in New York City. New Yorkers interested in getting a flu shot can call their doctors or 311 for clinic locations, or use the vaccine locator online at: https://a816 health 12ssl.nyc.gov/dohroot/prjFlp/.

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