and Senior Services Acting Commissioner George T. DiFerdinando,
Jr., MD, is once again urging all seniors 65 years of age or older
and people with certain chronic medical conditions such as diabetes,
heart disease, cancer, HIV, and kidney disease, to get a flu shot
at their doctor's office or a clinic in their community now before
the influenza season arrives this winter.
year 20,000 Americans die of influenza complications, and 90% of
deaths occur among those persons 65 years of age or those with chronic
medical conditions placing them at high risk," said Dr. DiFerdinando.
"In most cases, these are preventable illnesses so seniors
and people with chronic conditions should take steps now to protect
themselves this winter."
authorities and vaccine manufacturers are projecting more total
doses produced this year compared to last, however once again delays
in production and later distribution schedules require that available
vaccine be given first to those at high risk of serious illness,
hospitalization, complications and death due to influenza disease,
Dr. DiFerdinando said.
some reports promoting flu vaccination as a way to distinguish the
flu symptoms from anthrax symptoms, the federal and state health
authorities are not recommending that the influenza vaccine be used
for this purpose among a healthy population.
most people think is the flu is usually some other winter bug that
cannot be prevented by getting a flu shot. Most winter colds are
due to non-influenza viruses," Dr. DiFerdinando said. "Secondly,
while the flu shot is effective, it is not 100% effective, meaning
that some vaccinated persons may still develop influenza symptoms
and influenza disease."
who are younger and healthy may still seek influenza vaccination
as a way to protect themselves from the flu but it is recommended
that they should wait until late November or December. Most healthy
people recover from influenza in a week or two but for those who
are elderly or have chronic medical conditions, influenza disease
is often life threatening.
should also keep in mind that to date that while we have had two
confirmed cases of inhalational anthrax disease in the state, we
have thousands of cases of upper respiratory illness each year caused
by common flu-like viruses," said Assistant Commissioner and
State Epidemiologist Eddy Bresnitz, MD. "Individuals concerned
about a prolonged or unusual respiratory illness compared to upper
respiratory illnesses they have experienced in the past, should
consult their personal physician."
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