OSWEGO COUNTY – With cases of flu continuing to increase, the Oswego County Health Department is urging residents to diligently practice personal hygiene to prevent illness and follow other preventive measures to limit the spread of the flu and other respiratory diseases.
“Flu activity is currently widespread across New York State,” said Diane Oldenburg, Senior Public Health Educator with the Oswego County Health Department.
Oldenburg noted that more than half of the reported flu activity this season in Oswego County is caused by the flu B virus, which tends to cause more cases and severe symptoms among children and young adults.
“Vaccine offers the greatest protection from the flu,” said Oldenburg. “Vaccine is plentiful. However, there are other important measures Oswego County residents can take to reduce their chances of getting and spreading the flu and other respiratory illnesses this time of year and all year long.”
Oldenburg urges all residents to take the following measures:
– Cough or sneeze into a tissue or the crook of your elbow, not your hands. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it and wash your hands.
– Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water is not available.
– Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth. Flu and other respiratory viruses spread that way.
– Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
– Stay home when you are sick, and do not return to school or work until you have been fever-free without medication for at least 24 hours.
“Most people with the flu have mild illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs. If you get sick with flu symptoms, in most cases, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care,” advised Jodi Martin, Supervising Public Health Nurse of Preventive Services with Oswego County.
Martin recommends that individuals at higher risk for serious illness and complications from the flu contact their health care provider at the first sign of the flu, to see if it is appropriate for them to be prescribed an antiviral medicine which can reduce the severity of the flu.
Those at higher risk of serious illness and complications from the flu include:
– Pregnant women.
– Children younger than age five, especially children younger than age two.
– People age 65 and older.
– People with respiratory conditions, including asthma, chronic lung disease, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
– People with other underlying health conditions, including obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, blood disorders, kidney disorders, liver disorders, neurological disorders, neuromuscular disorders (including muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis).
– People with weakened immune systems (including those with HIV/AIDS).
– People under age 19 who are on long-term aspirin therapy.
The Oswego County Health Department still has flu vaccine on hand. Flu shots are available Monday through Friday from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. at the Oswego County Health Department Office located at 70 Bunner St. in Oswego.
No appointment is needed.
In Pulaski, flu shots are available for adults and children at the H. Douglas Barclay Courthouse on the third Tuesday of the month from 9 to 11:30 a.m.
Please call the health department at 315-349-3547 for an appointment in Pulaski.
Flu shots for children and adults cost $36 and are covered by Medicaid and most insurances.
High dose vaccine is available for seniors aged 65 years and older.
The high dose vaccine costs $66 and is covered by Medicare.
The health department can bill UMR (Pomco Select only), Excellus BCBS, Fidelis, United Health Care (Community Plan only) and Medicare Advantage 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 on flu vaccine, steps to prevent the flu, or to schedule an appointment in the Pulaski office, contact the Oswego County Health Department weekdays at 315-349-3547.
More information on the flu is available on the State Health Department’s website at www.nyhealth.gov; and on the CDC website at www.flu.gov