Oneida County has seen a sudden rise in the number of laboratory confirmed cases of seasonal influenza, and is urging the public to get their flu shot now, Health Department officials said on Friday.
“Within the past week we have had 94 confirmed cases of influenza reported in the county so it’s safe to say the flu season has arrived,” Patrice Bogan, Interim Director of the Health Department said. She added, “To put this in perspective, during last year’s mild flu season the first confirmed case of flu in Oneida County was not reported until late December.”
Almost all of the cases reported are Type A influenza. Health Department officials remind the public that it takes about two weeks to develop immunity after receiving the vaccine, and urges everyone to see their health care provider or one of the many area retail outlets offering flu shots as soon as possible.
The Oneida County Health Department is offering the flu vaccine through its Utica and Rome clinic sites. The “walk-in clinics” do not require an appointment and are held in Utica at 406 Elizabeth Street on Mondays and Thursdays from 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm. The Rome clinic at 300 W. Dominic Street holds a walk-in clinic on Tuesdays from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. The cost for those not covered by Medicaid, Medicare Part B or an accepted private insurance is $25.00.
The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6-months and older. While the vaccine will not guarantee immunity, vaccinated people who get influenza tend to have a milder form of the illness and one of shorter duration. Health Department officials stress the importance of other measures you can take to stop the spread of the flu which include:
- Frequent and thorough hand washing – use an alcohol based hand cleaner when soap and water is not available.
- Covering coughs and sneezes using the bend of your arm – never use your hands!
- Avoiding people with flu-like illness or symptoms and staying home from work or school if you exhibit flu-like illness.
For more information call the Oneida County Health Department at 798-5748 or visit the Health Department's web site at www.ocgov.net/oneida/health.