2011-10-28 / Community

Health Commissioner Urges Receiving Flu Shot

Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley today urged all New Yorkers to get a flu shot before the flu season gets into full swing. Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory infection that, together with pneumonia, is the third leading cause of death in New York City. Influenza season in New York typically starts in the winter months, peaking in January through March. Getting vaccinated before influenza transmission peaks is the best way to prevent infection from the virus and the suffering that comes with it.

Influenza symptoms include high fever, dry cough, and all-over body ache. Nationally, influenza is estimated to kill an average of 23,600 people and hospitalize over 200,000 people annually. In New York City, over 2,000 people die from influenza and pneumonia each year. Elderly New Yorkers fare the worst, accounting for about 85 percent of overall deaths. Fortunately, more adults 65 and older are now getting vaccinated, with an increase in those who received a flu vaccine in the past year from 53 percent of adults 65 and older in 2009 to 62 percent in 2010, according to a 2010 Health Department survey.

Getting vaccinated in New York City has never been easier, and this year’s vaccine is well-matched to flu strains starting to be identified in the U.S. Any New Yorker 18 and over can get vaccinated at their local pharmacy and most pharmacies accept health insurance. The Health Department is working with Walgreens and Duane Reade, which are providing flu vaccination vouchers to people who do not have health insurance or who cannot afford the cost of vaccination in order to help protect as many people as possible this flu season. Flu shots typically range from $25 to $35 at most pharmacies for walk-in customers. In addition, the City’s BigAppleRx discount prescription drug card offers a discount on flu shots. Flu vaccines are also available from Health Department clinics, and the Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) offers free or low-cost vaccination at all of its hospitals and community health centers. Anyone can find a nearby vaccine outlet by calling 311 or searching under “flu” or “Flu Clinic Locator” on NYC.gov.

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