December 4, 2013
Suffolk County Officials Encourage Residents to Obtain Flu Immunization
Those with High- Risk Conditions Are Urged to Contact Health Care Providers Promptly after Flu-like Symptoms Begin
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Health Commissioner James Tomarken, MD, MPH, are urging all residents who have not yet received this season’s flu immunization to get one as soon as possible. Additionally, they ask those residents who are at high risk for complications from flu to seek medical care promptly if they do experience flu-like symptoms.
“Influenza is a substantial public health threat, therefore we ask individuals to get immunized to protect not only themselves but also their families and those who live in our community who have high-risk conditions,” said County Executive Bellone.
“Our concern is that early reports from the CDC have indicated that people who are at risk for complications from influenza may be particularly vulnerable to the A (H3N2) virus that appears to be circulating this season,” said Dr. Tomarken. “Immunization has been found to provide some protection and will reduce the likelihood of severe outcomes. We urge people who are at high risk for complications from influenza to seek medical attention promptly if they experience flu-like symptoms. Those individuals may benefit from antiviral medications.”
Individuals 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 chronic 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.
Dr. Tomarken offered the following recommendations to residents:
- The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) 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.
- 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.
- Despite the unpredictable nature of the flu, yearly vaccination is needed because:
Ø flu viruses are always changing;
Ø new vaccine is produced each year that will protect against the next season’s anticipated influenza viruses;
Ø Immune protection from vaccination declines over time.
· It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the immune system to build the antibodies needed to provide protection against the flu.
- Students 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.
- If you are at high risk for complications from influenza, seek medical care promptly after symptoms begin. Antiviral medication may be recommended.
- Flu season runs from October through May, with flu activity usually peaking in January. Observe 2014 National Influenza Vaccination Week (December 7-13) by getting immunized.
Residents with questions about influenza may call the Department of Health Services Hotline number 800-787-2200.
For more information, visit www.cdc.gov. For flu-related questions contact FluInbox@cdc.gov.