Poloncarz Joins Hundreds of Residents at County Department of Health Flu Vaccination Event
ERIE COUNTY, NY— Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined by Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein and hundreds of Erie County residents as he took part in a free influenza immunization clinic sponsored by the Erie County Department of Health (“ECDOH”). The flu clinic also allowed ECDOH to test its public health emergency preparedness plans to provide mass vaccinations to the public. ECDOH was prepared to vaccinate up to 1,200 people from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM.
“Immunization is a quick and effective way to prevent getting the flu,” said Poloncarz. “Getting a flu shot not only keeps you healthier, it also helps to prevent your spreading the virus to family members, friends, and everyone you come in contact with. I received my flu shot last year and didn’t get the flu, but that shot was only good for last year. So here I am again to prevent against getting this year’s flu strain. Thanks to the Department of Health and the work they are doing here today, many more residents and their families will be protected this flu season.”
Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently. Flu season in the United States can begin as early as October and last as late as May. During this time, flu viruses are circulating in the population. An annual seasonal flu vaccine, either the flu shot or the nasal spray vaccine, is the best way to reduce the chances of getting the seasonal flu and also lessening the chances of spreading it to others. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu. When more people are vaccinated, less flu will spread through a community as a whole.
Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein added, “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), and those who have medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung or heart disease. Also, people who live with or care for individuals having these conditions should get vaccinated, as exposure to flu can have serious complications for individuals with these types of conditions.”
Two types of vaccines are available this year, including the traditional “flu shot” and the nasal spray flu vaccine. The flu shot is given with a needle, usually in the arm, and is approved for use in people older than six months, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions. There are three types of flu shot available: a regular flu shot approved for people ages 6 months and older, a high-dose flu shot approved for people ages 65 years and older, and an intradermal flu shot that uses a very small needle approved for people ages 18 to 64 years. The nasal spray vaccine is approved for healthy people ages 2 through 49 years, but not for pregnant women.
Additionally, for the first time this year, some flu vaccines protect against four influenza virus strains (quadrivalent) rather than the usual three strains. These vaccines were developed based on international surveillance and scientists’ estimates about which influenza virus strains will circulate this year. All of the nasal spray vaccines available in the United States this year will be quadrivalent; however, if individuals prefer a flu shot, they can ask their doctor or pharmacist if the quadrivalent vaccine is available. This year, there is no recommendation of one version over the other at this time.
“There is no reason to wait to get vaccinated, and the earlier people get their flu shot, the better,” Burstein continued. “This year, we have many more options for types of vaccines and options for protection against the flu have never been better. Vaccinations are quick and widely available, and the longer people wait to get vaccinated, the greater the chance that they will be exposed to influenza. I urge everyone to get vaccinated soon, if they haven’t already.”