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October 11, 2019
CONTACT: Kara Kane 
Phone: (716) 858-4941



Sharing facts and busting myths about influenza and the flu vaccine

ERIE COUNTY, NY — It’s that time of year again: flu season. The Erie County Department of Health is reminding residents of all ages that a dose of the seasonal flu vaccine can provide protection against strains of this year’s influenza viruses.

“Just like putting a snow brush in your car or pulling out warmer coats for cooler weather, making sure you get the flu vaccine is an important part of preparing for winter and flu season,” said Erie County Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein. “Right now – before the end of October - is prime time to make an appointment with your primary care provider, go to a retail pharmacy, or look to a community clinic to receive the flu vaccine.”

“Every year we see deaths because of flu and flu complications, and this vaccine will reduce your risk for getting the flu and also protect those around you who might not be able to get the vaccine because of their young age or a medical condition,” explained Dr. Burstein. “Young children, women who are pregnant, people over the age of 65 and people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease or lung disease have a higher risk of developing severe flu complications.”

People six months of age and older can get the flu vaccine. Whether it comes as a nasal spray or as a shot depends on your age and other health factors.

“The flu does not have to be part of your winter,” said Dr. Burstein. “Make the flu vaccine a priority, and remind others in your family to do the same.”

She continued, “Colder weather means that people are indoors more often, making flu transmission in close quarters more likely. Washing your hands frequently and properly is an effective tactic to fight the transmission of flu and other illnesses.”


The flu shot can give you the flu.

This is false. Some people may have a mild reaction, as with a slight rash, soreness, tenderness or swelling of the skin near where the shot was given. A low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches may also occur.  For individuals who receive the vaccine in a nasal spray, side effects may include a runny nose, wheezing, headache, vomiting, muscle aches, fever, sore throat and cough. If these problems occur, they usually begin soon after vaccination and are mild and short-lived.

Only senior citizens need a flu shot.

This is false. Everyone six months and old should receive the flu vaccine unless a specific medical condition or doctor’s advice indicates otherwise. 

The flu is just a bad cold – and it’s not that bad.

This is false. Influenza can lead to severe respiratory illness requiring hospitalization and in some cases can be fatal. The flu season can last as late as May. Flu vaccines protect against three or four flu virus strains (depending upon the type of vaccine you receive). The flu vaccine is readily available in Erie County physicians’ offices, pharmacies and other community sites.


The influenza season normally runs from October to May. The flu virus causes a contagious respiratory illness that is spread through the air and by direct contact. Typical symptoms include sudden fever, aching muscles, sore throat, coughing, runny nose, headache and eye pain.

People at high risk for serious health complications from the flu virus are urged to get vaccinated as soon as possible. This includes:

  • Individuals with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, morbid obesity, cardiovascular disease, or chronic lung disease
  • Young children, especially those under 2 years of age
  • Women who are pregnant or have recently given birth
  • People 65 years and older
  • Individuals residing in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities
  • People who are immunosuppressed, where their body’s immune system or ability to fight off infection may be impaired
  • People who live with or care for others who are at high risk of developing serious complications
  • People who work in health care settings


  • Get vaccinated.
  • Wash your hands frequently, and teach kids to do the same. Use soap and water to wash hands often, including after using the toilet, changing diapers, or caring for someone who is ill. Always wash your hands before eating, preparing, handling or serving food.
  • Do not sneeze or cough into your hands. Use a tissue, or sneeze into the crook of your arm.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs.
  • Throw all soiled tissues in the trash after you use them.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people. And if you are sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to prevent spreading infection. If you have flu symptoms, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to receive medical care or obtain other necessities.


CDC Flu Vaccine Finder


Erie County Department of Health:  

CDC Guidance for 2019-2020 Flu Season:

CDC, Flu Basics:   

CDC, Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine:

American Academy of Pediatrics, the Flu: