Residents encouraged to get flu shots

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken are urging all residents who have not yet received this season’s flu immunization to get one soon.

“We encourage residents to protect themselves and their families as well as their community by preventing spread of this disease to others,” said Executive Bellone.

The flu can be very dangerous for children. Each year about 20,000 children younger than five years old are hospitalized from flu complications, like pneumonia.  Most children who die from flu have not been vaccinated.

During most seasons adults 65 years and older bear the greatest burden of severe flu disease. It’s estimated that between about 70 percent to 90 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths and between 50 percent to 70 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations in the United States have occurred among people 65 years and older. However, one recent study showed vaccination reduced the risk of flu hospitalization by more than half in people 50 and older.

“Flu vaccines have been updated to better match circulating viruses for the 2016-2017 flu season,” said Dr. Tomarken. “The options available should be reviewed for individual patients.  Also only injectable flu vaccines are recommended this season.”

Dr. Tomarken recommended that residents take the following three actions to fight the flu:

  1. Get a flu vaccine. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine. A yearly flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting against the flu.
  2. Take everyday actions to stop the spread of germs. Wash your hands often with soap and water, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and wash your hands often with soap and water. If you become sick, limit your contact with others to keep from infecting them.
  3. Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them. If you get the flu, medicine, called antiviral drugs, can be used to treat flu illness. Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications.

Learn more about what’s new for the 2016-17 flu season here.

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