News Tips
06

Press Release:

Mari Hamilton, Health Educator

Flu season is here, whether we’re ready for it, or not.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has declared the first week in December National Influenza Vaccination Week.  This week heightens awareness that the flu vaccine is still available for those who have not protected themselves against the ruthless virus.

The flu has the ability to infect each and every one of us, even those who claim they “never get the flu.”   The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Symptoms of the flu include:

 
• Cough
• Fever Cough
• Sore throat
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Muscle or body aches
• Headaches
• Fatigue (very tired)
• Vomiting and diarrhea
 

The flu virus spreads by tiny droplets produced when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk.  A person can contract the flu by breathing in these tiny droplets.  It is also possible for an individual to pick up the flu by touching an item that has the flu virus on it, such as a phone, door knob, or keyboard and then touch their mouth, nose, or face.

It is important to not only protect yourself from the flu but also protect the ones you love as well.  Anyone who develops the flu can pass it along to someone at high risk of severe illness, including the elderly and infants younger than 6 months who are too young to get the vaccine.

Brenden Bedard, Director of Community Health Services of Genesee and Orleans Counties, explains that “children, pregnant women, individuals with chronic illnesses (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or lung disease), and people aged 65 years and older are at a much higher risk for developing critical health issues due to the flu.  These individuals may have a weakened immune system, therefore making it more difficult for them to fight off the flu.  These individuals are more likely to be hospitalized due to severe flu complications.”

In 2016 there were 282 reported lab cases of the flu confirmed in Genesee County and 83 reported lab cases of the flu confirmed in Orleans County.  These numbers are projected to increase this flu season. The New York State Department of Health already has lab cases of the flu confirmed in Genesee County.  Receiving an annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect against this very serious disease.

“The flu vaccine is altered each year based on the surveillance data that experts collect to predict what strains of the virus will cause the most illness.  That means that the flu vaccine you received last year may be different than the one created this year.  It is also notable to state that over time the flu vaccine does wear off, making it necessary to receive it annually.”  Bedard further states.

After you receive your flu shot, it is important to take preventative measures to continue staying healthy.

• Good handwashing is a habit that should be practiced all year round.  During flu season, it is crucial to scrub your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap.  Use a paper towel to open the door.
• Wipe off surfaces with a disinfectant solution regularly to get rid of germs.
• Sneeze and cough into your elbow.
• Be courteous to dispose of used tissues into a waste bin and wash your hands after.
• Stay home if you are sick!
• Eat a diet rich in healthy nutrients such as fruits and vegetables containing antioxidants and vitamins.
o Sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, and citrus fruits are great examples.
• Drink plenty of water.
• Receive about 7-9 restful hours of sleep each night.

Getting the flu vaccine not only protects yourself, but the people around you as well.  With the flu activity increasing and family and friends gathering for the holidays, now is a great time to get  a flu vaccine if you have not already received one this season.  To find a location near you to receive your flu shot, please visit: https://vaccinefinder.org/

For information about services that your local health department provides visit,

• Genesee County Health Department at: 344-2580 ext. 5555 or visit their website at www.co.genesee.ny.us/departments/health/index.html.  Visit Facebook at Genesee & Orleans County Health Departments and Twitter at GeneseeCoHealthDept.

• Orleans County Health Department at: 589-3278 or check out our website at:  www.orleansny.com/publichealth.  Visit Facebook at Genesee & Orleans County Health Departments and Twitter at OrleansCoHealth.

• Wyoming County Health Department at: 786-8890 or visit their web site at www.wyomingco.net/health/main.html.  Visit Facebook at Wyoming County Health Department

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