Flu cases at ‘tremendous’ number in county

MAYVILLE — New York state Department of Health Commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, has authorized emergency assistance funding to counties as influenza (“flu”) diagnoses continue to increase in communities across the state.

“This is not the time to be lackadaisical about flu vaccinations and flu preventive measures,” said Christine Schuyler, County Director of Health and Human Services. “We are seeing a tremendous amount of confirmed influenza and influenza-like illness in the county and it’s imperative that people get vaccinated as the first line of defense against the flu, especially the nasty H2N3 strain that is circulating.”

“It’s important for people to realize that it’s not too late to get vaccinated for the flu,” said Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello. “I encourage everyone who has not yet been vaccinated to go to their doctor, clinic or local pharmacy for a flu shot.”

Flu vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older and anyone who has not already been vaccinated should do so now. People who have severe influenza illness or who are at high risk of serious influenza-related complications such as the very young and very old, pregnant women, and those with chronic health conditions, should get treated with antiviral medication if they get flu symptoms regardless of whether or not they got vaccinated.

“It is scientifically impossible to get the flu from the flu vaccine and vaccination remains the best protection we have against the flu,” said Schuyler. “The flu virus easily mutates so it’s still possible that some people may become ill despite being vaccinated but their illness will be much milder. It also takes two weeks to build immunity after immunization.”

Public Health staff has conducted a survey of pharmacies in Chautauqua County. Flu vaccine and anti-viral medications are available but many pharmacies have limited supplies. Please call before making a trip to the pharmacy. Flu vaccinations are also available at your primary care doctor’s office or the County’s Public Health Clinics.

The flu is spread by coughing, sneezing, or unclean hands. To help stop the spread of germs:

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

• Stay home when you are sick.

• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

• Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

• Practice other good health habits:

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.

• Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

For more information on influenza vaccination, illness and reducing your risk of contracting the flu, please visit www.healthyCHQ.com or www.flu.gov or call the Chautauqua County Department of Health & Human Services, Public Health Division at 1-866-604-6789.