BREWSTER, NY— Predicting how severe the next flu season will be is always part guessing game. Experts usually look at what happens in the Southern hemisphere, where the flu season comes first. Based on that, the forecast for the upcoming flu season in Putnam, starting in October and running through next spring, is that it will be worse than last year’s.
Three public flu clinics are scheduled for the fall. Hosted by the Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH), the first clinic is Monday, September 25, at the Carmel Fire Department, Route 52 and Vink Drive in Carmel. The second is on Wednesday, October 18, at the Garrison Fire Department, 1616 Route 9; the third is Monday, October 23, at Carmel Fire Department again. The health department’s skilled and experienced public health nurses will be giving flu shots at each site from 2 to 6:30 p.m.
“Early vaccination offers the best protection,” says Michael Nesheiwat, MD, Interim Commissioner of Health. “Antibodies take about two weeks to develop, so receiving your shot early means your protection starts sooner and reduces your risk of becoming sick. Flu shots are important for other reasons as well. You save money on medical and prescription costs, and you avoid being absent from work. From a public health standpoint, flu immunization is important because it provides what we call ‘herd immunity,’ and those who can’t be vaccinated because they are too young, or have a specific medical condition, are protected as well. It is the right thing to do.”
Certain people need to be vaccinated. They include pregnant women, children 6 months through 18 years of age, people over 50 years of age, and those with chronic (long-lasting) medical conditions and those who live with them. All these groups may have serious health problems if they get the flu themselves, or they may cause serious problems for others. Health care workers are also required to get the flu vaccine in order to protect their patients.
The clinics are open to all Putnam County residents 18 years of age and older. (Proof of residency is required.) The vaccination fee is $25 for residents under 65 years of age. Those 65 years and older, or with a Medicare card, can receive the vaccine free of charge. High-dose flu vaccine is being offered for seniors, aged 65 years and older, as studies show this vaccine is more effective for this population. Nasal FluMist will not be available at the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Pneumonia vaccine will also not be available through the Health Department’s public flu clinics.
Appointments are not necessary, but a signed “Seasonal Influenza Consent Form” is required. Forms are available on the health department’s immunization page on Putnam County website at http://www.putnamcountyny.com/health/immunization under “Flu Vaccine.”
In order to streamline the registration process, people are encouraged to print and complete the form, and bring it with them to the clinic. The forms will also be available at the clinics.
More public flu clinics may be held later this year. Any future dates will be announced on the health department’s website and through social media. Flu vaccination is also offered by the Health Department in all school districts this fall for students and staff only. Check the school calendar or with the school nurse for details of these school-based clinics.
The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our County website at www.putnamcountyny.com ; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.