More than 500 lab-confirmed cases of the flu have been reported in Oswego County this year. The week of Jan. 29 saw a 57 percent increase in the number of reported cases of flu, compared to the previous week. The vast majority of reported cases – 78 percent -- are in residents who have not been vaccinated for the flu this season.
Regional hospitals have reported that two older Oswego County residents have died from complications from the flu. Both individuals had been vaccinated for the flu and had other health complications. A third resident, who had not been vaccinated, is hospitalized in critical condition.
The flu can hit everyone hard, especially children, seniors and adults with chronic health conditions, and leave them feeling miserable with symptoms like fever, chills, cough, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, muscle aches, headache, fatigue and sometimes even vomiting and diarrhea.
“The flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from getting the flu,” stated Jodi Martin, Supervising Public Health Nurse for Preventive Services in Oswego County. “The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone six months of age and older get a flu vaccine every year.”
Flu vaccine not only protects the person being vaccinated, it also helps protect others who are unable to be vaccinated due to age or other conditions. "Getting a flu shot now can still protect you from illness, even though the season has already started," added Martin.
Flu vaccines have an excellent safety records. Millions of Americans have safely received flu vaccine for decades. Some children between the ages of six months and eight years may require two doses of vaccine. Your healthcare provider can tell you whether your child needs two doses of vaccine to be fully protected.
“In addition to the flu vaccine, it is recommended that everyone take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs, like washing your hands, covering your coughs and sneezes into your elbow or a tissue, keeping your hands away from your face, and staying away from sick people. If you are sick, limit your contacts with others,” said Senior Public Health Educator Diane Oldenburg. “Those with flu-like symptoms should stay home, unless seeking medical care, until they are fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications.”
The County Health Department offers walk-in flu clinics at the Nick Sterio Public Health Clinic, 70 Bunner St., Oswego, weekdays from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. The cost of the influenza vaccination is $41 for adults and children, and $66 for anyone over 65 years of age requesting the High Dose Flu Vaccine. Please bring all shot records to the immunization clinics.
Pneumonia vaccine is also available for adults at the flu clinics; Pneumovax at a cost of $101 and Prevnar 13 at a cost of $185. Both vaccines are covered by Medicaid and Medicare Part B.
The health department accepts cash or checks for payment. The department accepts all POMCO plans, Empire, Excellus BCBS, Fidelis, United Health Care (only Medicare and Medicaid Plans), Medicaid, and Medicare. All patients should bring their insurance benefit cards with them to the immunization clinic.
For those covered by other insurance providers, the health department will provide a receipt that may be submitted to an insurance provider for possible reimbursement. For those who are uninsured, the county health department may be able to provide the vaccine at a reduced rate. No one will be turned away due to inability to pay.
For more information, contact the Oswego County Health Department weekdays at 315-349-3547.