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Goshen, N.Y. - Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus and the County’s Health Department are reminding residents that it is not too late to get a flu shot.
“It’s not too late to take precautions and get a flu shot,” Neuhaus said. “The vaccine is readily available from a variety of sources, including the Orange County Health Department. This influenza season appears to be one of the most severe, high volume flu seasons in several years. Serious complications can develop, but the flu shot can lesson symptoms and save lives.”
The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone over six months of age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend Live Nasal Spray flu vaccine as its studies found that the vaccine did not appear to provide protective benefit from influenza. According to the State Department of Health, 15,753 lab confirmed cases of influenza have been reported in New York this season and the number of people hospitalized in the state with lab confirmed flu has reached 2,349 this week.
Flu cases have steadily climbed over the last five weeks and are the highest since reporting began in 2004, prompting Governor Andrew Cuomo to declare a public health emergency. According to Acting Orange County Health Commissioner Dr. Jennifer Roman, this year’s outbreak has become more dangerous and is being driven by H3N2, a strain of influenza A which has proven to be more resistant to vaccinations and poses a significant risk to the elderly, young children and those with chronic illnesses. CDC data suggest that the influenza vaccine continues to provide protection against all flu viruses and can reduce the severity of illness for those who do get the flu.
Since the start of the season, there have been 883 laboratory confirmed cases of influenza and more than 2,000 local provider reports of rapid test positive cases of both influenza A and influenza B in Orange County. It is likely that there will be significant flu activity for several more weeks. Flu season typically can last until May. Roman added that the symptoms of the flu can vary from mild to severe illness, and often develop quickly.
Symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, chills and fatigue. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea. According to the CDC, in addition to getting an annual flu shot, it’s important to take preventative actions to stop the spread of germs, including the following:
While sick, limit contact with others. If sick with flu-like illness, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine.)
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough and sneeze and dispose of used tissues immediately.
Wash your hands often with soap and water. Or use an alcohol-based hand rub if soap and water aren’t available.
Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs.
The County Health Department is scheduling flu shot clinics by appointment at Health Department offices in Goshen, Newburgh, and Middletown. For more information, contact the Orange County Health Department at 291-4300 or visit its page on the County website at www.orangecountygov.com.