Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken are urging all residents to obtain this season’s flu immunization as soon as possible. Flu season runs from October through May.
“Influenza is a substantial public health threat, so we ask individuals to get the vaccine to protect not only themselves but also their families and the community,” said County Executive Bellone. “Once vaccinated, you can enjoy this holiday season knowing that you have taken the single best step to protect yourself and your loved ones against the flu.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the last season caused approximately:
- 49 million flu illnesses nationwide– more than two and a half times the population of New York State;
- 960,000 flu hospitalizations – more than the number of staffed hospital beds in the United States;
- 79,000 deaths – more than the average number of people who attend the Super Bowl each year.
The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against influenza disease.
“Most people who become infected with the flu will suffer with fever, congestion, cough, sore throat, and muscle aches over the course of a week or two and will eventually recover completely," said Dr. Tomarken. “However, some are at greater risk for serious complications that can lead to hospitalization or even death. The flu vaccine is the best way modern medicine currently has to protect against this potentially serious disease.”
Dr. Tomarken offered the following CDC recommendations to residents:
- Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctors’ offices, clinics, local health centers, pharmacies, college health centers and places of business. Contact your health care provider today for your flu vaccine.
- Children and adults should stay home from school or work if they develop influenza-like illness.
- If you do get sick, wash hands often and cover your coughs and sneezes. It’s best to use a tissue and quickly throw it away. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands. This will prevent the spread of germs.
- Get plenty of rest and drink a lot of fluids.
- Individuals who are particularly vulnerable to complications from influenza should seek medical attention at the first signs of illness. People at high risk for developing serious flu complications include children younger than 5 years, people 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, and people with certain long-term medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions, blood disorders, morbid obesity, kidney and liver disorders, HIV or AIDS, and cancer.
For more information about influenza, residents can visit the Suffolk County Department of Health Services website: http://www.suffolkcountyny.gov/Departments/HealthServices/SeasonalTrends.aspx or call 631-854-0333.