Wednesday, October 26, 2022 5:55 PM
Presented by the Niagara County Health Department
It’s fall and influenza (flu) season is here again. The flu is a respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. The virus spreads mainly from person to person through droplets that form when people with the flu cough, sneeze, or talk. The virus can also be spread when people touch something with the flu virus on it and then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth. The flu can cause serious illness, hospitalization, and death. Anyone can get the flu, and serious problems can happen at any age.
In conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York State Department of Health, the Niagara County Department of Health (NCDOH) recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older be vaccinated against flu every year. According to the CDC, it’s recommended to get your flu shot in late October, but vaccination after that will still provide protection throughout the flu season. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the antibodies that protect against the flu to develop in the body.
The New York State Department of Health tracks influenza surveillance from October to the following May.
“For the second week in a row, the flu is widespread across the state, including Niagara County,” said Director of Public Health Daniel J. Stapleton. “We have seen a significant increase in the number of laboratory-confirmed cases and the number of people hospitalized across the state since last week.”
The flu season in Australia, in the southern hemisphere, is ending; the country reported its worst flu season in five years, and the season started earlier than usual. Seasonal influenza trends for countries in the northern hemisphere tend to follow what is happening in the southern hemisphere.
There are many reasons to get a flu shot every year: the flu shot can keep you from getting sick; has been shown to reduce the severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick; and flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization. Influenza vaccination is an important preventive tool for people who are at increased risk of influenza complications and hospitalization, including adults over 65 years of age, children under 2 years of age, pregnant women, people living in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. , and people with chronic medical conditions (asthma, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disorders, and diseases that result in compromised immune systems).
In addition to self-protection, the flu shot adds a layer of protection for members of our community who are most vulnerable to the flu. People who care for family members at home, people who spend time with pregnant women and babies, and people who work in child care settings, group homes, other group living settings, nursing homes, health care and schools should make flu vaccination a priority. .
“In addition to vaccination, healthy behaviors to prevent the spread of the flu are also effective in preventing other respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19 and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus),” Stapleton said. “To help protect the health of our community, it is important to stay home when you are sick; wash your hands often; cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing; wear a mask when appropriate; and practice social distancing.”
Flu shots are widely available in the community and can be given at the same time as the coronavirus vaccine. To get a flu shot, contact your local health care provider or pharmacy, visit the NCDOH COVID-19/flu vaccination schedule, or visit www.vaccinefinder.org. For more information on the 2022-23 influenza (flu) season, visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu/temporada/faq-flu-season-2022-2023.htm.