Goshen, N.Y. – Flu season has begun and Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus and Health Commissioner Dr. Alicia Pointer are reminding and encouraging residents to get a flu shot.
“The single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year,” Neuhaus said. “The body’s immune response from vaccination declines over time and because flu viruses are constantly changing, the formulation of the flu vaccine is reviewed each year and updated as needed. That is why it is important to get a flu shot annually.”
For the upcoming 2022-23 influenza season, Health Department officials anticipate an early flu season combined with an increase in other viruses, such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The Orange County Department of Health, as per the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) guidelines, recommends that everyone six months of age and older without contraindications receive the seasonal flu vaccine as soon as possible. Young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions, and people 65 years of age and older are at an increased risk for flu complications including serious illness and death. Since 2010, the “CDC estimates that each year influenza has resulted in between 140,000 and 810,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 and 51,000 deaths.”
“Prevention is key, particularly this year, when we want to maintain health care capacity and ensure resources are available to manage multiple viruses including flu, RSV, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.” Dr. Pointer noted.
Having the flu can be an awful experience and the influenza season can last until May. Dr. Pointer added that the symptoms of the flu can vary from mild to severe and often develop quickly. Symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, chills and fatigue. Some people may also experience vomiting and/or diarrhea. According to the CDC, in addition to getting an annual flu shot, it is important this year to follow precautionary measures which will help prevent the spread of flu, COVID and other viruses. These include:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub if soap and water aren’t available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Stay home and avoid contact with others when you are feeling sick.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Wear a protective face covering if you are at high risk of complications or are feeling ill.
“A yearly flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and your family against flu. Flu is already widespread in New York, so the sooner you can get your vaccine, the better.” Dr. Pointer said. “There are lots of places to get a flu vaccine including pharmacies, doctors’ offices, and some workplaces. If you are having trouble getting a flu vaccine, call the Health Department.”
The County Health Department is scheduling flu shots by appointment at Health Department offices in 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.