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New York City Seal
Press Release
New York City Department of Health
Office of Public Affairs
CONTACT: Sandra Mullin/Andrew Tucker
Wednesday, January 16, 2002
(212) 295-5335/5336


New Yorkers 50 and Older Advised to Get a Flu Shot

The New York City Department of Health (DOH) announced today that flu activity has increased in New York City in recent weeks and reminded New Yorkers over 50 or who have chronic medical conditions that it is not too late to protect themselves against the flu this season.

Flu activity generally picks up starting in late December, and intensifies throughout January and February. While DOH does not track individual cases of flu, DOH has been conducting surveillance of local labs, congregate care settings, and emergency departments, and has detected a marked increase in the presence of Influenza A in New York City. Flu vaccination helps prevent illness for the duration of flu season. With the vaccine widely available in hospitals, health clinics, and doctors' offices, New Yorkers over the age of 50 or those who have chronic medical conditions should get vaccinated against the flu.

New Yorkers can get the flu shot from their doctors, but those who are uninsured may receive free flu and pneumonia vaccinations at walk-in DOH clinics. Information on vaccination sites can be obtained by calling the DOH Flu Vaccination Information Line at 1-866-FLU-LINE (1-866-358-5463) or on the DOH website at

A radio campaign targeting New Yorkers at high risk for developing complications related to the flu will begin airing this week. The spot, which encourages City residents who are 50 years of age or older or who have chronic medical conditions to get vaccinated against the flu, will air on several New York City radio stations, including La Mega, WINS, WABC, and Multi-Cultural Broadcasting.

For each year's flu season, a new flu shot is required to combat the illness because, as flu viruses circulate among the world's populations, they can rapidly change form and thus make the previous year's vaccine obsolete. Each year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies the forms of the flu virus most likely to be present in the United States and determines which strains the seasonal vaccine should target. This year's vaccine targets the A/Moscow-like (H3N2), A/New Caledonia-like (H1N1) and B/Sichuan-like strains of influenza.

While most people who contract the flu recover fully, the illness and complications that can follow can be serious and potentially fatal. In the year 2000, 2,268 New York City residents died of influenza or pneumonia. Those at highest risk for developing serious complications include individuals over 65, residents of nursing homes, and persons with compromised immune systems. The flu shot can be highly effective against contracting the illness in these high risk populations. As with all medical treatments, DOH recommends that New Yorkers consult their physicians before getting a flu shot.

Influenza commonly causes several days of fever, headache, fever, chills, cough, sore throat and body aches. People who experience flu-like symptoms should rest, drink plenty of fluids, and contact a doctor if they feel particularly ill or if symptoms do not improve within a few days.