National Influenza Vaccine Week runs from Dec. 4-8
Submitted by the Erie County Department of Health
A flu infection is not inevitable.
The Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) joins the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to promote National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW). They have a critical reminder for everyone 6 months and older to protect themselves and their loved ones from flu with their annual flu vaccine.
According to the CDC, data from several South American countries – which experience flu season during the North American summer – showed flu vaccination in 2023 reduced flu hospitalizations against the predominant flu viruses between 46% and 55%. A study that looked at clinical and vaccination data for children and adolescents from 2022-23 in the U.S. showed that flu vaccination reduced the risk of flu-related emergency department and urgent care visits and hospitalizations by almost half.
“Doctors often hear from patients who are reluctant to get the flu vaccine because ‘there is still a chance of getting sick.’ That sentiment is correct and misleading,” Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein said. “When flu circulates at high levels in a community, you have a very good chance of being exposed – and knocking you down for a week or more. A flu vaccine means that you could feel less ill for less time – it's worth the shot.”
Flu vaccines have been available for decades, saving thousands and thousands of lives each year. There is still time to get the flu vaccine and be protected from potentially serious flu complications if you are exposed.
Protect Your Loved Ones
Infants and young children, older adults and people living with chronic conditions have a higher risk of serious complications because of a flu infection. What are those complications? Besides severe pain and difficulty breathing, flu infections can lead to hospitalization and death. Make sure that people in your household who are at higher risk receive the flu vaccine, and that people who care for them or spend time with them do too.
Protect School-Aged Children
At school, children share so many things – crayons, glue sticks … and germs. Flu symptoms can last a week or more, keeping kids out of school, sports, activities, child care – and adding the risk that the rest of your household could get sick. Make the flu vaccine part of your fall and early winter routine.
Now is the Time
The best time to get vaccinated is before flu is widespread in Western New York. But vaccination is still protective during the rest of flu season. Reported flu cases in Erie County are still low compared to recent years, but trends are increasing. Flu cases most commonly peak in late January or February, and significant flu activity can continue into May. Visit vaccines.gov for flu vaccine locations near you, or check with your doctor.
Updated COVID-19 vaccines and RSV vaccines for those eligible (certain infants, pregnant people from 32-26 weeks, adults aged 60 years and older) also protect against those respiratory illnesses. Check with your doctor for specific recommendations and availability.
Groups at Risk for Flu Complications & Hospitalization
√ Adults 65 years and older
√ Children younger than 2 years old
√ People who are pregnant or who could become pregnant, and up to two weeks after the end of pregnancy
√ People who live in nursing homes and other long-term-care facilities
√ People with chronic medical conditions like Asthma; neurologic and neurodevelopment conditions; blood disorders (such as sickle cell disease); chronic lung disease (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD] and cystic fibrosis); endocrine disorders (such as type 1 or type 2 diabetes); heart disease (such as congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease); kidney diseases; liver disorders; metabolic disorders (such as inherited metabolic disorders and mitochondrial disorders); people who are obese with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher.
√ People with a weakened immune system due to disease (such as people with HIV or AIDS, or some cancers such as leukemia) or medications (such as those receiving chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer, or persons with chronic conditions requiring chronic corticosteroids or other drugs that suppress the immune system)
√ People who have had a stroke
Flu Shots for Those Who’ve Had the Flu
Both the Erie County Department of Health and the Niagara County Department of Health confirmed a flu shot can be administered to a person who has had the flu this season.
The ECDOH noted, “As there are different flu strains/variants circulating, getting a seasonal flu vaccine even after a lab-confirmed flu test can still have a protective benefit. Individuals with specific questions should talk to their doctor.”
√ Erie County Department of Health, influenza: www.erie.gov/flu
√ CDC, influenza: www.cdc.gov/flu
√ Find a vaccine provider: www.vaccines.gov