November 29, 2021

‘Tis the season: Get your flu shot

Health officials say it’s the best way to prevent spread of illness

flu shot

Todd R. McAdam/managing editor

Pharmacist Taylor Toomey, at Kinney Drug on Route 281 in Cortlandville, administers a flu vaccine Tuesday. After the paperwork, the shot itself took less than 60 seconds.

With one confirmed flu case in Cortland County, health officials are urging people to get the shot to prevent the spread of the disease and skip the boxes of tissues, bowls of hot soup and days in bed.

“It’s the best prevention,” said Lisa Perfetti, the county Health Department’s director of community health services.

It’s also pretty simple, said Taylor Toomey, the supervising pharmacist at Kinney Drug on Route 281 in Cortlandville.

“It’s really not that tough,” Toomey said Tuesday as she administered a shot in less than 60 seconds. “The toughest part is having them fill out the paperwork.”

It’s still too early to tell how bad flu season will be in New York, but other states, including North Carolina and Indiana, have already reported deaths from the illness and Maine is looking at the possibility of a tough flu year based on how bad the season has been in Australia.

“The flu is still considered sporadic in New York state,” Perfetti said. “We have weekly meetings with the state Health Department regarding illnesses and there’s been no information on that (severity of the season) at this point.”

However, one pediatric death has already been reported in Monroe County, reports the Monroe County Health Department. The death occured sometime between Oct. 1 and Oct. 19.

Last year, New York saw 18,768 flu-associated hospitalizations, according to a news release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office. Six children died from the illness.

Washing one’s hands frequently is a good way to prevent the spread of influenza viruses. Cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow and wipe surfaces with disinfectant wipes.

Over the past four years, there have been 25 pediatric flu-associated deaths and an average of 16,018 flu-related hospitalizations in the state.

Nationally there are around 24,000 deaths a year, but 2018 marked the highest year of deaths in decades, including 135 children’s deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that people should get the shot before the end of October. Data from the CDC shows February tends to be the peak month for flu activity.

People can start getting vaccinated at 6 months. Those at high risk include young children, pregnant women and people over 65.

Perfetti said most doctors — other than pediatric doctors — are referring people to local pharmacies to get their shot.

Perfetti also said there have been no reported vaccine shortages.

The CDC said manufacturers are projecting they will produce between 162 million and 169 million doses of the vaccine for the U.S. market, but that number can change depending on the flu season.

If you don’t have insurance, pharmacies will give flu shots for around $40. The price could be different and as high as $72 for people 65 and older because they require a higher dosage of the vaccine.

Cortland County Health Director Catherine Feuerherm said people can also come to clinics at the Health Department to get a shot. They are on the second Friday and fourth Thursday of the month, but an appointment is needed. People can call 607- 753-5127 to make an appointment. People are charged using a sliding scale and those who cannot afford the shot can get one for free.