Your best defense against the flu is the flu vaccine

With flu season at or near its peak, Westchester County Executive George Latimer announced that the County Health Department will offer residents more free flu vaccines in February.

Latimer said: “Flu is widespread this season, and the virus can be miserable. I encourage anyone who did not have a flu vaccine this fall to sign up for one today, to protect you and those around you well into 2020.”

Call 995-5800 to schedule a flu vaccine at a County Clinic for residents age 3 and up, as follows:

  • Tuesdays, Feb. 11, 18 and 25, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., 134 Court St., White Plains
  • Fridays, Feb. 7 and 21 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., 134 Court St., White Plains
  • Friday, Feb. 14 and 28, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., 20 S. Broadway, Yonkers.

Westchester flu clinics are open to all, especially those without insurance or whose insurance doesn’t cover vaccines. The County Health Department has focused its public vaccination efforts on people who lack the means to get vaccinated elsewhere by bringing flu shots to homeless shelters, soup kitchens and food pantries throughout Westchester.

Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler, MD, said: “Everyone six months and older should get a flu shot each year. Flu can be deadly, and the flu vaccine is very safe and the best protection we have. By getting an annual flu shot, you help protect infants too young to be vaccinated, seniors and people with chronic health conditions, who are more vulnerable to flu complications.”

The New York State Department of Health has reported a surge in the number of laboratory-confirmed influenza cases and hospitalizations reported statewide. In the week ending January 25, 15,012 lab-confirmed cases of flu and 2,015 flu-related hospitalizations were reported statewide.

Flu activity usually peaks between December and February, but can last into May. One flu vaccine now provides protection all season long and can prevent illness or reduce the severity of flu symptoms. The vaccine becomes fully effective after about two weeks.

Dr. Amler said that anyone who does get a respiratory infection should cough or sneeze into their elbow, wash their hands frequently with soap and water, stay home until 24 hours after their fever subsides to avoid spreading germs, clean surfaces they touch frequently, such as doorknobs, water faucets, refrigerator handles and telephones, and get plenty of rest.

 

Each year in the U.S., more than 200,000 people are hospitalized with flu complications. People most at risk for complications from the flu include pregnant women, adults age 50 and older, children under the age of five and their caregivers, residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities and anyone who has certain underlying medical conditions.


Seasonal Influenza Information for Children and Adolescents:


Help prevent the spread of the flu by following the Four "C"s.

  • Contact: Avoid close contact with people who are sick. If you are sick, keep your distance from others to prevent them from getting sick. Equally important is avoiding contact with your eyes, nose and mouth since the virus spreads by entering the mucous membranes in these areas.
  • Contain: If you are sick, stay home from work, school and public areas. If you had a fever, stay home until 24 hours after your fever subsides to avoid spreading your germs.
  • Cover: To prevent spreading the flu, cough or sneeze into your elbow or cover your nose and mouth with a tissue. Since you may be contagious even before you realize you are sick, it is important to make this habit routine.
  • Clean: Clean your hands in warm soapy water often. Hand washing is one of the most effective, yet overlooked ways of preventing the spread of illness. Also, be sure to clean surfaces you touch frequently, such as doorknobs, water faucets, refrigerator handles and telephones.

Where can I go to get a flu vaccine?

Flu shots are available for a fee from many area pharmacists and medical offices. Residents should check with their health care provider or a local pharmacy chain. You can use this Vaccine Finder link to find a pharmacy near you that provides flu vaccine.

Also, you can try one of the local neighborhood health centers listed below. Be sure to call ahead to find out if they have vaccine in stock. 

Neighborhood Health Centers
Mount Vernon Neighborhood Health Center
107 West Fourth St.,
Mount Vernon, NY 10550
Phone: (914) 699-7200

Yonkers Community Health Center
30 South Broadway,
Yonkers, NY 10701
Phone: (914) 968-4898

Greenburgh Neighborhood Health Center
295 Knollwood Rd.
Greenburgh, NY 10607
Phone: (914) 989-7600

Hudson River HealthCare
Peekskill Health Center
1037 Main St.
Peekskill, NY 10566
Phone: (914) 734-8800

Yonkers - Park Care
2 Park Ave, Yonkers, NY 10703
Phone: (914)964-7862

Yonkers - Valentine Lane
503 South Broadway
Yonkers, NY 10705
Phone: (914)965-9771

Open Door Family Medical Centers
Mt. Kisco Open Door
30 West Main St.
Mt. Kisco, New York 10549
Phone: (914) 666-3272

Ossining Open Door
165 Main St.
Ossining, NY  10562
Phone: (914) 941-1263

Port Chester Open Door
5 Grace Church St.
Port Chester, NY  10573
Phone: (914) 937-8899

Sleepy Hollow Open Door
80 Beekman Ave.
Sleepy Hollow, NY  10591
Phone: (914) 631-4141

What do I need to know about the flu vaccine?
It’s recommended for everyone six months of age and older, according to the the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

And flu shots are especially recommended for:

  • Pregnant women
  • Children age five and under
  • People age 50 and older
  • People with certain chronic medical conditions
  • People who live in nursing homes and long-term care facilities
  • Health care workers or others who care for those at high risk for flu complications

While the flu shot is a good idea for most people, you should always check with your health care provider first, especially if you have a severe allergy to chicken eggs, have had a severe reaction to a flu vaccine or have developed Guillain-Barre syndrome within six weeks of getting a flu vaccine. Anyone with a moderate to severe illness with a fever should wait until they have recovered to get vaccinated.