FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 5, 2014
It's Not Too Late to Get Vaccinated
HHC Physicians Answer Five Common Questions About Influenza
Brooklyn, NY – The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) is urging all New Yorkers to get vaccinated against the flu this year to protect themselves and their families before peak flu season kicks in around January and February. The flu is serious, contagious, and potentially fatal, especially for those with underlying health conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease. Last year close to 2,000 New Yorkers died from influenza and pneumonia, which can develop as a complication of flu. It is recommended that everyone six months and older should be vaccinated for the flu annually. HHC hospitals and health centers offer flu vaccine for children and adults at little or no cost. New Yorkers can find an HHC facility in any borough to get vaccinated.
According to health experts across HHC, including Eric Legome, MD, Chief of Emergency Department, HHC Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, flu is dangerous for both adults and children, and it’s unpredictable. Experts don’t know when the annual flu season will start, how severe it will be, or how long it will last, but they know it’s coming, and the best defense is annual vaccination.
“Flu is highly contagious and easily transmitted, so making sure that as many people are vaccinated as possible will help cut down on its spread,” said Machelle Allen, MD, HHC's Deputy Chief Medical Officer. “HHC also encourages patients to ask their health care provider if they have been vaccinated against the flu, because their health is directly impacted by the health of their care provider.”
HHC and Dr. Legome of Kings County Hospital shares five things patients need to know this flu season:
- Who should get vaccinated? The flu vaccine is strongly recommended for anyone 6 months of age and older, and is proven safe for pregnant women.
- When does the flu season start? The timing, length, and severity of the flu season can vary widely from year to year. In the U.S., flu often peaks around January-February, but flu activity can begin as early as October and continue into May.
- Can I get flu from the vaccine? No, you cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine. If vaccinated individuals do become ill with flu-like symptoms, it is likely because they already contracted flu before vaccination, or have contracted some other type of contagious illness, such as a common cold.
- Does the vaccine protect me from flu right away? No. It takes 1-2 weeks after getting vaccinated before you’re protected from the flu strains in the vaccine. That is why HHC encourages New Yorkers to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
- If I was vaccinated last year, do I need another flu vaccine this year? Yes. The vaccine offered in any given year is only good for that flu season, and is specifically developed to prevent the influenza viruses that are expected to be most prevalent that year. Each year the vaccine changes.
HHC provides flu vaccination at little or no cost for patients and the community. Visit NYC.gov/HHC or click here to find a HHC facility near you.