OSWEGO COUNTY – The Oswego County Health Department is marking National Influenza Vaccination Week, through Dec. 7, by reminding residents that it’s not too late to get vaccinated against the flu. Annual flu vaccination is the first and most important step in protecting against the flu and its potentially serious complications.
“With flu activity increasing and family and friends gathering for the holidays, now is a great time to get a flu vaccine,” said Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends yearly flu vaccinations for everyone 6 months of age and older as it is the most important step for people to protect themselves and their families from the flu.”
Although the flu is generally considered a mild illness, for some people, getting it may mean spending a week in bed. For many, including children under five years, people 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, and those with medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma, cancer, heart disease, kidney and liver disorders, flu may cause serious illness and complications such as pneumonia, hospitalization and even death.
“Influenza viruses are constantly changing, that’s why an annual flu shot is recommended,” said Diane Oldenburg, senior public health educator for the Oswego County Health Department. “Vaccination along with other simple steps can help prevent flu from visiting you and your family this flu season.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends these three steps to fight the flu:
• Take time to get the flu vaccine.
• Take everyday preventative actions like covering your cough and sneezes, staying away from people who are sick, staying home when you are sick, and washing your hands often to help stop the spread of respiratory viruses like the flu.
• Take anti-viral medication for flu treatment if your doctor prescribes them.
The Oswego County Health Department has provided close to 1,000 flu shots to community members already this year, but plenty of vaccine is still available for those who have not be vaccinated yet. It’s important to remember that flu can circulate in the community until spring, so it’s not too late to get vaccinated.
Flu shots are available Monday through Friday from 9-11 a.m. and from 1-3 p.m. at the Oswego County Health Department Office located at 70 Bunner St. in Oswego. No appointment is needed. In Pulaski, flu shots are available for adults and children at the H. Douglas Barclay Courthouse on the third Tuesday of the month from 9-11:30 a.m. Call the office for an appointment in Pulaski.
Flu shots for children and adults cost $36 and are covered by Medicaid and most insurances. High-dose vaccines are available for seniors aged 65 years and older at a cost of $66, which is covered by Medicare. The flu-mist nasal vaccine for children and healthy adults up through age 49 years is $42. Patients should bring their insurance cards with them.
The Oswego County Health Department can bill UMR (Pomco Select only), Excellus BCBS, Fidelis, United Health Care (Community Plan only) and Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicaid, and Medicare. All patients should bring their insurance benefit cards with them to the immunization clinic.
For those covered by other insurance providers, the health department will provide a receipt that may be submitted to an insurance provider for possible reimbursement. For those who are uninsured, the county health department may be able to provide the vaccine at a reduced rate. No one will be turned away due to inability to pay.
For more information on flu vaccine, steps to prevent the flu, or to schedule an appointment in Pulaski, contact the Oswego County Health Department weekdays at 315-349-3547.