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Broome County Health Department Postpones Community Flu Clinics

The Broome County Health Department announced today that all the community Flu Clinics have been postponed. This includes the Broome County Health Department and Office for Aging Flu Clinics that were scheduled to begin in the last week of October.

The Broome County Health Department will be redistributing its influenza vaccine supply to area long term and acute care facilities. In past years, the patients in these types of facilities have been affected most severely by influenza illness. According to information provided by the New York State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control, we are hopeful that our community may receive additional vaccine supplies in six to eight weeks. If this additional vaccine arrives, the situation in our community can be reassessed at that time.

Some primary care physicians have begun to provide their limited flu supplies to their patients that are high risk according to the Centers for Disease Control recommendations. If you are in one of these priority groups, your primary care provider may be scheduling appointments.

Remember that the Influenza season can peak anywhere from December through March, but most often peaks in February. So getting the vaccine in December, or even January, can be beneficial in most years. There is little, if any, influenza illness in Broome County at this time. It is important for the public to realize that there has not been a change in the influenza activity at this point, only in the availability of the vaccine. There is no need for the public to panic.

The following priority groups for vaccination with inactivated influenza vaccine this season are considered to be of equal importance and are:

  • Adults aged 65 years or older - even if you are in great health;
  • All children aged 6 - 23 months - Children younger than 2 years old have one of the highest rates of hospitalization from influenza;
  • Adults and children 2 years of age and older with chronic health conditions - Like heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, asthma, cancer, or HIV/AIDS;
  • Women who will be pregnant during the influenza season - Flu season is typically November through March;
  • Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities;
  • Children aged 6 months - 18 years who take aspirin daily;
  • Health-care workers who provide direct, hands-on care to patients; and
  • Out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of children aged less than 6 months (children under the age of 6 months cannot be vaccinated).

All primary care providers will be using these categories as screening guidance for those who will be able to get the vaccine.

If you are not included in one of these priority groups, please don't ask for a flu shot. Be a "Health Hero"! Save flu vaccine for the people who need it most. For most healthy adults, coming down with the flu is an annoyance, but not a serious health threat.

There are certain good health habits that can help prevent the spread of flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  • Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. If you don't have a tissue, cough into your sleeve.
  • Clean your hands after you cough or sneeze - with soap and warm water, or an alcohol-based hand cleaner. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, water faucets, refrigerator handles and telephones.

Other good habits, such as getting plenty of sleep, engaging in physical activity, managing stress, drinking water, and eating good food, will boost your immune system and help you stay healthy.

Please continue to follow the news for additional information concerning the situation. Broome County residents can also go to the Broome County website at www.goBroomeCounty.com/ and click on the Flu Icon for additional information. The recorded Information Line will be updated with new information as we have it. That number is 607.778.3911, Option 1.

10/14/2004 - 3:05pm