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Submitted by the Niagara County Department of Health
The case numbers of influenza (flu) have been increasing exponentially across New York state, and the 2022-23 flu season is six weeks or more ahead of the typical spike in flu cases.
“We have seen a significant increase in the number of laboratory-confirmed cases and the number of people hospitalized both statewide and in Niagara County,” Niagara County Public Health Director Daniel J. Stapleton said. “This increase in flu is much earlier in the flu season than typical. This presents a serious concern for our community members and our hospitals.”
The Niagara County Department of Health, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), recommends everyone 6 months of age and older get the flu shot annually. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against flu to fully develop in the body. CDC data indicate the 2022-23 seasonal flu vaccine is a good match to protect against the currently circulating flu viruses.
Anyone can get the flu, which can cause severe illness, hospitalization and death.
“It’s important to protect yourself and your family against serious illness,” Niagara County Legislature Chairwoman Becky Wydysh said. “Getting vaccinated now will give you increased protection for the holiday season, which we are already into. It’s not too late, but the time is now.”
Getting the flu vaccine can keep you from getting sick, it 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. Flu vaccination is an important preventive tool for people who are at higher risk for flu complications and hospitalization.
In addition to self-protection, the flu vaccine adds a layer of protection for our community members who are most vulnerable to the flu. People who care for family members at home, people who spend time with pregnant women and infants, and people who work in child care settings, group homes, other congregate living settings, nursing homes, health care facilities, and schools should make flu vaccination a priority.
“In addition to vaccination, simple measures can help prevent the spread of the flu as well as other respiratory illnesses,” Stapleton said. “It is important to stay home when you are sick, wash your hands often, and cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing. Social distancing is important when you have symptoms.”
Flu shots are widely available in the community and may be administered at the same time as the coronavirus vaccine. To receive a flu shot or COVID-19 shot, contact your local health care provider or pharmacy, see the NCDOH COVID-19/flu vaccination schedule, or visit www.vaccinefinder.org, where you can filter for either COVID-19 or flu vaccines.
The New York State Department of Health and CDC track influenza. For more:
√ NYSDOH flu tracker: https://nyshc.health.ny.gov/web/nyapd/new-york-state-flu-tracker
√ CDC weekly influenza surveillance report: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm
For more information about flu season, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/season/faq-flu-season-2022-2023.htm.