Tonawanda News

September 11, 2013

Health officials urge flu vaccines

Staff Reports
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein on Monday encouraged residents to prepare for the upcoming flu by getting early vaccinations — a practice she said was the single best way for protection against the disease. 

“While the summer season is just drawing to a close, it is important to remember that colder weather and the flu season are on the way, and the time to act to protect ourselves is now,” she said. “Flu viruses are constantly changing, and it is not unusual for new viruses to appear each year. Vaccines are formulated to keep up with these changes from year to year, so even if someone was vaccinated last season, they should be sure to get another vaccination this season.”

Burstein said two types of vaccines are available, including the traditional flu inoculations as well as the nasal spray flu vaccine, available depending on one’s age. The flu shot is given with a needle, usually in the arm, she added, and is approved for use in individuals older than six months that encompasses healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions. 

She noted that influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death with the potential for the condition to spread as early as October and as late as May.

When more people are vaccinated, less flu will spread through a community, Burstein noted. 

“Everyone who is at least six months of age should get a flu vaccination this season, and it is especially important for certain people to get vaccinated, including pregnant women, people age 65 and over, young children, especially those 2 years and younger,” she said. “There is no reason to wait to protect ourselves and our families, and if more people act now there will be less flu circulating in our community in the coming months.”