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Bellone: “It’s Not Too Late to Get Your Flu Shot”

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Many people at high risk still unprotected despite rising number of cases

(Hauppauge, NY-January 11, 2013) Citing the rise in the number of flu cases in New York State and nationwide, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken are urging all residents who have not yet received this season’s flu vaccination to get their flu shot as soon as possible. Flu season runs from October through May.

“It’s not too late to get your flu shot,” County Executive Bellone said.  “This isn’t just about protecting yourself, getting a flu shot is about protecting your family and those closest to you.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that this year’s influenza vaccine is a very good match for the flu strain that is currently circulating nationwide. The CDC recommends that children six months of age and older should be immunized against influenza. Children under age nine may need to return for a second dose of immunization during their first season of vaccination.

“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 Health Commissioner Tomarken. “However, some are at greater risk for serious complications that can lead to hospitalization or even death. The good news is that immunization can help protect us from the flu.”

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.

•           Though this year’s flu vaccine has shown to be 62 percent effective, some individuals may still get the flu; however, their symptoms will be milder than if they had not received the vaccine.

•           Students and adults should stay home from school or work if they develop influenza-like illness, such as fever, congestion, cough, sore throat, and muscle aches lasting a week or two.

•           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. This include mature adults over 65 years of age, young children, pregnant women, those with diabetes, heart disease, neurological conditions, or chronic lung diseases, such as asthma and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), and those who are severely obese.

Residents with questions about influenza may call the Department of Health Services Hotline number 1-800-787-2200 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

For more information, visit www.cdc.gov. For flu-related questions contactFluInbox@cdc.gov.

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