Flu Bug Detected Throughout All Five Boroughs
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH last week announced that flu activity has been detected in all 5 boroughs and is on the rise citywide and urged New Yorkers, particularly those with underlying medical conditions, those over the age of 50 and especially those over 65, to get a flu shot. DOHMH does not track individual cases of flu but monitors influenza activity through local labs and providers, congregate care settings and emergency departments.
Dr. Frieden said, "With flu activity increasing markedly in New York City over the past week, now is the time to get a flu shot. There is plenty of vaccine to go around, and you can’t get the flu from a flu shot. You need this year’s flu shot to protect against this year’s flu." The Health Department also notes that new scientific studies of flu vaccination in people over 65 demonstrate that the flu shot reduces risk of illness, hospitalization, and death by half.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that flu is on the rise earlier in the season than expected in several locations across the nation. Additionally, CDC reported the presence of a strain of flu that differs slightly from the H3N2 Panama, H1N1 New Caledonia, and Influenza B Hong Kong strains that are covered in the vaccine. This "drift" strain is a version of H3N2 and is called the Fujian strain. The current vaccine is expected to provide cross-protection against this strain.
Almost everyone can benefit from getting a flu shot. Certain individuals are at high risk for the flu and should definitely get a flu shot every year. High-risk groups include:
• Anyone age 50 and up, and especially those over age 65
• Pregnant women in their second or third tri-mester
• All persons with long-term health problems, including diabetes, lung diseases, such as asthma, heart disease, kidney disease, sickle cell anemia and immune system problems (HIV/AIDS, those being treated for cancer, and people taking high-dose steroids)
• All children 6-23 months of age
• Health-care workers and employees of nursing homes and long-term-care facilities.
While rare, some individuals have severe reactions and should not receive flu shot. Individuals who have had a serious reaction to a previous flu shot or anyone with a severe allergy to eggs should NOT receive the flu shot.
New Yorkers can get the flu vaccine from their family doctor or primary care provider. There are also several sites throughout all five boroughs offering vaccinations at no cost or low cost to those in need. Public hospitals and clinics, as well as senior citizen centers throughout the City offer the vaccination. Additionally, DOHMH walk-in immunization clinics in seven locations citywide are available to administer the vaccine.
For information about influenza and pneumococcal vaccination and locations, call 311, or visit nyc.gov/health/flu to access DOHMH’s Flu Vaccine Locator, which directs New Yorkers to locations in their area offering the vaccine.