The Rockland County Department of Health advises residents that flu activity is expected to increase in the coming weeks. "There already have been a few cases of the flu reported in Rockland County. We advise residents to get your flu vaccine – it is the first and most important step in protecting against flu. It can reduce flu illnesses, doctors' visits, missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths," said Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, Rockland County Commissioner of Health.
The vaccine is free of charge to adults 60 years and older (please bring identification with proof of age). Patients with Medicare and Medicaid must bring their cards. Those 9 through 59 years of age can receive the vaccine, but will be charged a $30 fee. The nasal spray flu vaccine, Flu Mist, is available for those ages 9 - 49. Each patient must bring proof of Rockland County residency such as a driver's license or utility bill. As the Department of Health receives more shipments of the vaccine, additional flu vaccine clinics will be scheduled.
This year the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of quadrivalent (four-virus) flu vaccines, which offer protection against the four different influenza (flu) viruses that research shows will be most common during the season: two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses. Both the Flu Mist, and the injectable flu vaccine (flu shot) that the Health Department is giving are quadrivalent. In the past, the standard flu vaccine has been trivalent (three-virus), which means the vaccine protects against three different influenza viruses: two A viruses and one B virus. The quadrivalent vaccine may provide people with a broader protection against the influenza B viruses.
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness, usually with fever, cough, body aches, and cold-like symptoms, caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Anyone can get sick from the flu. Some people, such as older people, young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions (including asthma, diabetes, and heart disease) are at high risk for serious flu complications. Everyone six months of age and older should get the flu vaccine each year.
Besides getting your flu vaccine, follow these good health habits to help prevent getting and spreading the flu: avoid close contact with people who are sick, stay home when you are sick, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, wash your hands often, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, and practice other good health habits, such as get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
For more information about the flu and the flu vaccine visit these websites:
CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
New York State Department of Health
To download or order educational posters and brochures (in multiple languages) visit www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/influenza/seasonal/educational_materials.htm