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Goshen, N.Y. – With peak flu season in full swing and a sharp increase in the number of laboratory-confirmed influenza cases reported statewide, Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus and Health Commissioner Dr. Irina Gelman are reminding and encouraging residents 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 and can protect residents from becoming sick. This influenza season appears to be severe and serious complications can develop. The flu shot can lessen symptoms and save lives.”
The past week saw another sharp increase in flu cases. During the week ending January 4th, 10,085 laboratory-confirmed flu cases were reported to the State Department of Health, a nine percent increase in cases from the week prior. This flu season, 32,848 laboratory-confirmed cases have been reported to the New York State Department of Health. The number of weekly hospitalizations has also increased, with 1,964 New Yorkers hospitalized for lab-confirmed influenza, up 34 percent from last week.
The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone over six months of age. For the 2019-2020 flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends any licensed, age-appropriate influenza vaccine, including live attenuated influenza vaccine (live nasal spray).
CDC data states that the influenza vaccine continues to provide protection against all flu viruses and can reduce the severity of symptoms for those who do get the flu.
Having the flu can be an awful experience and the influenza season can typically last until May. Gelman added that the symptoms of the flu can vary from mild to severe, and often develop quickly. Those 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’s important to take preventive measures to stop the spread of germs, including the following:
If you are sick, limit contact with others. If sick with flu-like symptoms, 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 single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year,” Dr. Gelman 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 to keep up with changing flu viruses. For these reasons, a flu vaccine is needed annually.”
The County Health Department is scheduling flu shots 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.