Westchester County Health Department Offers Flu Vaccines
The Westchester County Health Department is warning residents that influenza is widespread, and urging residents to get their annual flu shot without delay.
There have already been 14 pediatric flu deaths this season, nationwide. Hospitalization rates have been highest in people over age 65 and children under four years of age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler, MD, said: “As you prepare for holiday gatherings, place a flu shot at the top of your to-do list. This is a great way to protect yourself and the people you care about, both young and old. The flu vaccine is the best protection we have and it can help you avoid the worst outcomes from the flu, including hospitalization and death. Flu activity is already robust, and the vaccine appears to be a good match for the viruses circulating.”
Flu activity is usually highest between December and February, but can last into May. One flu vaccine now provides protection all season long. The vaccine becomes fully effective after about two weeks.
Flu vaccines are offered by most area drug store and supermarket chains. To book a flu vaccine near you, go to www.vaccines.gov. Flu shots are also offered by appointment at the Westchester County Health Department clinic on Mondays and Fridays at 134 Court Street in White Plains. Residents can view the clinic schedule at www.westchestergov.com/health.
Vaccination is especially important for people who are at higher risk of developing serious flu complications, including young children. Millions of children get sick with flu every year, and thousands will be hospitalized as a result.
Amler said: “Your flu shot protects you and it protects those around you who are more vulnerable to flu complications, such as infants too young to be vaccinated, seniors and people with chronic health conditions.”
Dr. Amler said that anyone who does get a respiratory infection should consider COVID/influenza testing. For older adults and very young children, RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, can also be of concern. To keep infants healthy, wash hands often, avoid touching the face with unwashed hands, clean and disinfect toys and other frequently touched surfaces, cover coughs and sneezes and avoid contact with sick people.
To avoid spreading germs to others, residents who are symptomatic should wear a mask; cough or sneeze into their elbow; wash their hands frequently with soap and water; stay home until 24 hours after their fever subsides to avoid spreading germs; clean surfaces they touch frequently, such as doorknobs, water faucets, refrigerator handles and telephones; and get plenty of rest.