By JEFF MEYERS
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Another flu season is rapidly approaching, and public-health officials are recommending flu shots for everyone 6 months and older.
Influenza is a respiratory disease that can cause serious problems for people with weakened immune systems. In order to protect everyone from a flu outbreak, health officials believe blanket immunizations are the best measure against the disease.
“We don’t have any current cases of flu, but the Centers for Disease Control has recommended starting vaccines in September,” said Linda Keysor, supervising public-health nurse for the Clinton County Health Department.
“It’s not too early to receive vaccinations.”
Pharmacies across the region have been advertising flu shots for the past several weeks, including many that offer walk-in shots for customers.
The Essex County Health Department has also been offering a series of flu clinics since late September and has two more scheduled, the first at Moriah Central School set for 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, and the second at the Health Department office in Elizabethtown from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 21. The Moriah clinic is providing free shots for adults, but pre-registration is required by contacting the Health Department at 873-3500.
Franklin County has several clinics scheduled throughout November.
PLENTY OF VACCINE
Clinton County has one clinic scheduled for 3 to 6 p.m. Nov. 1 at Champlain Centre mall and a second from 10 a.m. to noon Nov. 28 at the Altona Town Hall.
“We have been going into private areas (such as nursing homes) to provide vaccines for high-risk adults, but we’ve cut down on the number of clinics because we did not want to interrupt private enterprise,” Keysor said.
Unlike some years in the past, this year’s flu vaccine is readily available, Keysor noted. Flu manufacturers create new batches each year depending on what specific kind of influenza virus is in circulation.
“It’s important that people receive this year’s flu vaccine to combat this year’s strain,” she added.
It is also important for people to recognize flu symptoms and distinguish them from the common cold, she added.
“With the cold, you don’t get the fever that is associated with the flu,” she said. “Also, cold symptoms are not as severe as the flu.”
FLU MIST AVAILABLE
Besides fever, flu symptoms include cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches and fatigue.
“If you believe you have the flu, you should contact your physician,” Keysor said. “If the doctor can confirm the flu, then it can be treated with antibiotics in its early stages.”
Lead-free flu vaccines are also available along with the flu mist, which is an option for people 49 and younger who do not want the traditional shot.
There are also higher-dose vaccines available for seniors who may be especially susceptible to serious complications from the flu.
Last year’s flu season was relatively mild across the region, but that does not mean area residents should take it lightly this year.
“The flu is so unpredictable,” said Laurie Williams of the Clinton County Health Department. “That’s why we are strongly encouraging people to get vaccinated.”
Email Jeff Meyers
email@example.comLEARN MORE For more information on influenza and local flu-vaccine clinics, contact your area health department or visit its website: Clinton County: 565-4848; www.clintoncountygov.com/departments/health/flu.html. Essex County: 873-3500; http://www.co.essex.ny.us/ EssexCountyPublicHealth. Franklin County: 481-1709 (Malone), 891-4471 (Saranac Lake); http://franklincony.org/content/Departments/View/2.