Watertown— North Country Healthcare Providers are staying busy as influenza spreads across New York State.
ABC50 spoke with the Health Planner and Public Information Officer, from the Jefferson County Public Health, Faith Lustik. According to Ms. Lustik, flu cases this year started as early as October, whereas last year the first flu case in Jefferson County wasn’t reported until March.
In the month of December, there have been 307 reported flu cases totaling 733 since October. Ms. Lustik suggested that those living in Jefferson County should definitely get a flu shot. Ms. Lustik explained the flu vaccination process, “When people are tested they send the specimen results to Wadsworth, a laboratory in Albany run by the state. From there they can determine what type of flu is going around.”
However, flu shots are actually designed a year in advance. Specimen samples are only a small component to creating a flu vaccine. Initially, the flu shots are designed to counteract the type of flu that is speculated to go around. Having to project a year in advance, factors that are also analyzed are cases within the southern hemisphere. By analyzing flu cases going around in places such as Australia, New Zealand, and South America- a proper vaccine can be designed to counter the type of flu that may circulate.
There were only 57 flu cases last year, a dramatic change from this year at 733. Ms. Lustik warned that, “Babies under 6-months old cannot get a flu vaccine. So babies are susceptible.” She went on to mention that elderly people, and those suffering from chronic disease are also prone to getting the flu and tending to have further health complications associated. “This year, the vaccine is a relatively good match for the type of flu that is going around”, said Ms. Lustik.
People can get their flu shots at their medical provider, family doctor, or any local pharmacy. Folks should also check with their insurance to determine if the flu shot is covered.