Getting a flu vaccine this fall is more important than ever

OSWEGO — The Oswego County Health Department is accepting appointments for flu immunizations on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The flu vaccine is available by appointment only at the Nick Sterio Public Health Clinic, 70 Bunner St., Oswego. To make an appointment, call 315-349-3547 weekdays.

Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang said it’s more important than ever to get a flu shot this year to protect yourself, family and community from flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone age six months of age or older receive a flu vaccine.

“Seasonal flu epidemics occur yearly during the colder months, while COVID-19 continues to spread in our community. A flu vaccine this season can help reduce the burden on our healthcare systems responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and save medical resources for care of COVID-19 patients,” said Huang.

Influenza (flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses.

Jodi Martin, RN, BSN, Supervising Public Health Nurse for the Oswego County Health Department, said there are some key differences between flu and COVID-19.

“COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than flu and causes more serious illnesses in some people. It can also take longer before people show symptoms and people can be contagious for longer,” said Martin. “Another important difference is there is a vaccine to protect against flu. There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

“We all need to take personal responsibility for our actions to prevent the spread of the virus,” said Martin. “This means staying home if you are sick and keeping your kids home from school if they are sick, social distance at least six feet from other people, and keep your face covered with a mask or other covering when you can’t social distance.”

Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. Flu and COVID-19 share many characteristics, but there are some key differences between the two.

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

- Fever or chills

- Cough

- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

- Fatigue

- Muscle or body aches

- Headache

- New loss of taste or smell

- Sore throat

- Congestion or runny nose

- Nausea or vomiting

- Diarrhea

“While more is learned every day, there is still a lot that is unknown about COVID-19 and the virus that causes it,” said Huang. “However, we do know that there is still community transmission of COVID-19 in our county.”

Health officials urge everyone to take these precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:

- Wear a face mask or covering over nose and mouth.

- Keep six feet from other people.

- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating.

- Cover cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash.

- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth

- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

- Stay home if sick unless seeking health care.

- Call healthcare provider from home if experiencing symptoms such as a fever, cough or shortness of breath.

- Call 911 if experiencing life-threatening conditions.

Additional questions can be directed to the Oswego County Health Department COVID-19 hotline at 315-349-3330 from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday. For information about emotional supports, visit the Oswego County Department of Social Services Division of Mental Hygiene at

Oswego County presents videos highlighting various COVID-19 topics on Tuesday afternoons. They are posted on Oswego County’s COVID-19 playlist on YouTube, Facebook and the county government website at

Under New York State Public Health Law, the Oswego County Health Department is the sole local public health authority regarding the COVID-19 pandemic response over all persons and entities within the County of Oswego. The Oswego County Health Department works closely with New York State Department of Health regarding COVID-19 monitoring, response and reporting.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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