Join Stray HELP for Community Day on November 16

Stray HELP’s Community Day will be held on Saturday, November 16 from 11:30 to 4:30 at Trinity Episcopal Church, 5 Elm Street, Fishkill, NY. Vendors, raffles, food, music, humane trapping demonstrations and adoptable cats and kittens will be available.

Low-Cost Spay/ Neuter services by appointment: $70 general public; $35 military members. Please call Paula at 845-206-9021 to schedule your appointment.

Stray H.E.L.P. (Healthcare and Education to Limit Population) is here to help you help the community cats you care about. Through the Trap-Neuter-Return/Place, Cat Adoption, Cat and Kitten Fostering, and Humane Education programs, we are able to improve the lives of both cats and people in the Hudson Valley.

#PutnamRecycles Plastic Bags; The Health Department Challenges Residents to Recycle

Brewster, NY-  Are you recycling all that you can? Leading up to America Recycles Day on November 15, The Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH) has launched a plastic “film” recycling challenge. Plastic film consists of flexible polyethylene packaging such as grocery bags and bread bags. It is also the wrap around many products including bathroom tissue, diapers, and more. Plastics such as these, commonly considered single-use, unnecessarily head to landfills. They can instead be dropped off at specified locations to be recycled.  To join the challenge, head to a drop-off location in Putnam to recycle plastic bags or film and share a photo online with the hashtag #PutnamRecycles.

“Because they are not part of curbside pickup, plastic bags and plastic film are often forgotten about when we talk about recycling. Many people are unaware that the plastic wrap surrounding their paper towel rolls is actually recyclable. Recycling these plastics has positive environmental and economic impacts, and it can be as simple as bringing the bags back to the store with you on your next visit,” says County Executive MaryEllen Odell.

“The health department works in partnership with every retailer in the county that is required to accept plastic bags and films. Currently there are more than 20 drop-off locations throughout Putnam,” says Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD.

Home Depot, Acme, and Kohl’s in Brewster, Acme in Mahopac, and Foodtown in Cold Spring are a few participating retailers. All large retail stores, or chains with more than five smaller stores, must participate. A complete list is posted online at the PCDOH website at https://www.putnamcountyny.com/green-putnam/.

“It takes up to 500 years for plastic items to decompose in landfills,” adds Dr. Nesheiwat. “And many plastics never decompose completely— they just break down into smaller and smaller pieces. Daily we may not witness the impact plastics have on human health, but we do know that plastics can pose a danger to animals, especially marine life. We are hoping this recycling challenge calls attention to this important issue.”

While many residents in Putnam participate in curbside recycling, recycling today is vastly different from the recycling of the 1990s. The Three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle have since been updated to the Five R’s, which now includes Refuse and Rot.  Refuse means not accepting and not purchasing items that will later end up in recycling centers or landfills. While rot refers to food items that can decompose in a compost pile or bin. If consumers regularly follow this motto, they will have less to sort through as they determine what is recyclable and what is trash.

Rinsed plastic containers and glass bottles, cardboard, and food and beverage cans are almost always accepted for curbside recycling. Paper, plastic, or foil with remains of food— think greasy pizza boxes, are not recyclable. Attempting to recycle items that cannot be recycled can contaminate an entire batch of recyclables and actually does more harm than good. Recycling experts have coined this well-intentioned, yet detrimental recycling misstep, “wish-cycling.” They urge consumers, “when in doubt, throw it out.”

While recycling has some challenges, the environmental impacts of recycling remain true and measurable, from reducing CO2 emissions to conserving natural resources and more.

New York State’s ban on plastic bags, set to go into effect March 2020, prohibits retailers from providing customers with single-use plastic bags. While there are some exceptions, including deli meat bags and film, produce bags, and bags for individually delivered newspapers, the ban aims to reduce widespread plastic waste. The ban has an additional component allowing counties to opt in to a 5-cent fee on paper bags; revenue that would go to the state’s Environmental Protection Fund as well as a separate fund to buy reusable bags for consumers.

Even after the ban is in place, plastic bag and film drop-off locations will continue to operate. To search for your nearest drop-off location, visit: www.plasticfilmrecycling.org/recycling-bags-and-wraps/find-drop-off-location/.

The mission of the PCDOH, 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.

 

Free Rabies Vaccination Clinic Scheduled for November 2

Brewster, NY-  Bring your dogs, cats and ferrets to a FREE rabies vaccination clinic on Saturday, November 2, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sponsored by the Putnam County Department of Health, the clinic is being held at Brook Farm Veterinary Center, 2371 Route 22, in Patterson, N.Y. and is open to all Putnam County residents.

Please bring photo ID as proof of Putnam County residency, as well as written proof of prior rabies vaccination. Tags are not acceptable. If you do not have a written certificate documenting prior rabies vaccination, your pet will receive a one-year rabies vaccine. All animals must be under control and not aggressive, with all dogs leashed and cats and ferrets in a carrier. An animal information/release form will be available and can be completed at the clinic site. For more information and directions, please call the Putnam County Department of Health at (845) 808-1390 ext. 43160.

Pet vaccination is important to protect your pets and prevent the spread of rabies, but the number-one reason for rabies treatments in Putnam County remains bat exposures. If you find a bat in your house, capture the bat and call the Putnam County Department of Health at (845) 808-1390. A staff person will assess your situation and if appropriate, arrange to test the bat for rabies, since this is the only way to avoid unnecessary treatment, which consists of a two-week series of shots. For more information about rabies and capturing a bat, visit the Putnam County website at https://www.putnamcountyny.com/health/rabies/

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.

Putnam County Department of Health Confirms Measles Case, More Exposures Possible

Brewster, NY— The Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH) has confirmed a positive case of measles. The patient has been isolated to avoid spreading the disease further. Measles is a serious, highly contagious disease that can be spread through the air by coughing or sneezing. In rare cases it can be deadly.

“Keep in mind that this is currently one case of measles,” reassures County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “Please support the efforts of the health department as they work to reduce the risk of measles exposure and transmission. We continue to urge all residents to check their vaccination status to protect themselves.”

Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD, further explains, “Before this person was isolated, there may have been additional exposures. We are working with local partners to identify all possible contacts. If you are unsure if you or your children are protected from measles, reach out to your physician or one of our communicable disease nurses.” PCDOH nurses are available by calling 845-808-1390.

Several possible exposure sites have been identified: the Route 52 Laundromat, the Nativity of the Holy Mother of God church, and following the service, at the Annual Feast Day Celebration, and also at the Putnam Hospital Center Emergency Department.

Anyone in the laundromat at 184 Route 52 in Carmel on Saturday, September 21, between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. who develops symptoms before Saturday, October 12, should call the PCDOH as soon as possible to understand their possible risk and what action to take.

Anyone who attended church service at the Nativity of the Holy Mother of God at 1050 Route 6 in Mahopac on Sunday, September 22, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., or the celebration afterwards from 12 noon to 6 p.m. and develops symptoms before Sunday, October 13, should also call the health department as soon as possible.

Anyone in the Putnam Hospital Center Emergency Department at 670 Stoneleigh Ave in Carmel on Saturday, September 28, between the hours of 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. who has not been contacted by the PDCOH, should also call the health department as soon as possible.

Individuals born before 1957, anyone who has had measles disease, or those who have proof of receiving 2 MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccines, are less likely to become sick.

“Measles symptoms begin with fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat,” continues Dr. Nesheiwat. “It is followed by a rash that spreads over the body. If anyone has these symptoms, call your doctor or the emergency room first. Do not go directly to a medical facility. Isolation procedures need to begin immediately upon arrival.”

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.

Free Smoking Cessation Offered in Putnam

Most Successful Quitters Have Failed Before

BREWSTER, NY- Putnam county residents have a new chance to take the first steps toward a tobacco-free life. The Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH) will offer residents a free smoking cessation program, with a group “Quit Day” falling on the eve of the Great American Smokeout, November 21. According to the American Cancer Society, smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world. Locally, smoking remains a major health concern. While only 11.7% of residents in the Mid-Hudson Valley are smokers, 18.3% of Putnam County residents smoke, according to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey from 2016.

The American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout is an annual event that encourages and offers support to smokers to make a plan to quit smoking or, for some, to quit smoking on the day of the event – the third Thursday in November each year. Quitting smoking isn’t easy and the PCDOH is supporting residents with an evidence-based approach to kicking the habit. This autumn, Putnam residents can come together to make a change that could save their lives. The eight-week Freedom From Smoking (FFS) program starts October 30, and continues every Wednesday, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m., at the health department’s main office at 1 Geneva Road, Brewster. The last class is on December 18.

The group leader is a FFS/American Lung Association-certified facilitator from the health department. The sessions start with discussions and guidance for preparing and planning to quit. Each person’s experience with quitting smoking is different. The FFS program uses proven activities and tools to help participants understand their own relationship with tobacco—and how to enjoy a tobacco-free life. Nicotine replacement products (NRT) such as the patch and gum will be available, also for free, while supplies last. Using NRT is encouraged, and will be discussed in detail as part of the program, but it is not required.

“While there are currently 16 million Americans living with a smoking-related disease, we know that the benefits to quitting smoking are almost immediately measurable. After just 12 hours the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal. Somewhere between 2 weeks to 3 months your circulation improves, and your lung function increases,” says Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD.

Widely regarded as the gold standard in quit-smoking programs, the FFS program was created by the American Lung Association, an organization with more than 50 years of experience helping smokers quit. Some smokers feel hopeless after unsuccessful attempts at quitting. The FFS Program recognizes these feelings are part of the journey to become a non-smoker and stresses the fact that most successful quitters have failed at it before. The program empowers participants to create their own path to success by instilling strategies for managing stress, avoiding weight gain and staying active during their quit, and after.

Pre-registration is required, as group size is limited. More information on the program can be found online at www.freedomfromsmoking.org. For more information or to pre-register, contact the Putnam County Department of Health at (845) 808-1390, ext. 43155.

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.

Health Department Supports Putnam’s Mental Health Organizations

Out of the Darkness Walk Scheduled for October 20

BREWSTER, NY—More people today, than ever before, understand mental illness is a medical condition. It’s also becoming clearer that early treatment is most effective. Unfortunately, stigma and discrimination still exist and often keep people from seeking help. This October, with Mental Illness Awareness Week beginning October 6 and National Depression Screening Day on October 10, Putnam’s mental health advocates from the health department, the Mental Health Association and the Suicide Prevention Task Force are joining forces to raise awareness, fight stigma and reduce suicides. Together they are promoting Putnam’s Out of the Darkness Walk on October 20. The walk starts at 11:15 a.m. at the Carmel Fire Department. Registration begins at 10 a.m. or online at www.afsp.org/Putnam and more information about the Task Force will be available at the walk.

“The well-being of our citizens is paramount,” says County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “We are bound by social, ethical and fiscal responsibility to help those with mental health issues, just as we are when they encounter physical illness. Talking about mental conditions more, and in more compassionate ways, helps reduce stigma and encourages individuals to get the help that they or their family members need. Our county has a 24/7crisis line.” The Putnam County Crisis Intervention hotline number is 845-225-1222. This “hotline” is staffed by professionals who make recommendations to anyone based on the situation. There are also “warmlines” available offering peer support, meaning the phone will be answered by someone with a shared lived experience, and are operated through Putnam’s Mental Health Association.

Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD, who practiced as a family medicine doctor for decades before becoming commissioner, agrees. “We need to talk openly about mental illness and mental health and encourage people to seek help,” he says, encouraging primary care physicians to check in with their patients and inquire how they are doing mentally not just physically.

Megan Castellano, executive director of Putnam’s Mental Health Association, and Marla Behler, coordinator of the Child Advocacy Center, encourage everyone to keep the dialogue going. “Many resources are available in Putnam, we are here to help,” Ms. Castellano says. “Statistically speaking, twenty two veterans die by suicide every day here in the United States, more than in combat. Additionally, more firefighters and members of law enforcement die by suicide than in the line of duty. These numbers are truly tragic. Getting the word out that peer support is available has the potential to save lives.” The Mental Health Association, in partnership with the law enforcement community, has just launched “FIRST LINE,” a new warm line manned by active and retired first responders. FIRST LINE is available to offer peer-to-peer support for members of law enforcement, first responders and their families. It’s confidential and anonymous. The FIRST LINE number is 845-745-0088. The Vet2Vet warm line, Veterans helping other Veterans through peer support, continues at 914-519-8097. More information about the Mental Health Association and multiple services for youth and others is available online at www.mhaputnam.org.

Ms. Behler and Ms. Castellano together chair Putnam’s Suicide Prevention Task Force. “Suicide claims an extraordinary number of lives each year. And it is not solely measured in lives lost, but also in the community aftershocks. Despite these challenges, suicide doesn’t receive the funding of other causes of death,” says Ms. Behler. “We encourage everyone to support our efforts and to come out and walk with us on Sunday, October 20.” For more information or to register visit www.afsp.org/Putnam.

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.

Household Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Day Scheduled for Saturday, October 5

BREWSTER, NY—Putnam County will hold a Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Drop-Off Day for Putnam County residents on Saturday, October 5. The Putnam County Department of Health and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) are co-sponsoring the FREE event, scheduled from 9 am to 2 pm (rain or shine) at Fahnestock State Park, Canopus Beach Parking Lot at 1498 Route 301 in Kent, NY. Pre-registration is required.

Improper storage or disposal of hazardous waste poses a health risk to residents and their families. For this reason, the HHW Drop-Off Day event continues to be maintained in the budget by County Executive MaryEllen Odell as an opportunity for Putnam residents to safely dispose of certain toxic materials.

The health of the community is paramount and all waste brought to the event is subject to inspection. Residents bringing in items that are deemed to present a threat to residents, workers or the environment may be held responsible for the costs of any additional safety measures taken.

Items accepted include household products that can typically be purchased in a hardware, grocery or big box store, including cleaners, pesticides, herbicides, oil-based paint (not latex), solvents, thinners, mothballs, rodent poisons, gasoline, kerosene and small propane tanks (up to 20 pound size). For a more complete list of acceptable items, see “Special Wastes” on the Green Putnam webpage at https://www.putnamcountyny.com/green-putnam/.

Disposal items must be labeled and identifiable to be accepted. Items not accepted include: water-based paints (latex/acrylic), used motor oil, plastic bags, household alkaline batteries, tires, or electronic waste. Materials that are commercial or industrial type or quantity will not be accepted.  Items packed into garbage or lawn bags will also not be accepted. Latex paints can be discarded by routine means, after they have been dried out.

Register early to reserve a spot. For questions or to register, contact the Putnam County Department of Health at (845) 808-1390 or by emailing your 3 preferred times (every 15 minutes beginning at 9 a.m.) along with your town of residence to PutnamHealth@putnamcountyny.gov. You will be sent an email with additional information to confirm your registration. If you do not receive a confirmation email within 2 business days, please call the above number.

For information regarding electronic waste disposal, call your local town. Please note that household hazardous waste items are not accepted at the town electronic waste drop-off locations.

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.

Health Department Issues Violation

Below is a response to inquiries made to the Putnam County Department of Health from the Journal News on September 16.

First, in response to DEP’s report of the field inspection which it conducted on September 4, 2019, an inspector from the PCDOH performed a site inspection on September 5, 2019 to investigate the observance of kitchen wastewater on the ground at the back door.  At the time of the inspection, no water was observed on the ground at the back door of the kitchen (except for a couple of small rain water puddles). The inspector discussed with the restaurant staff that no mop water or other wastewater could be dumped in the back outdoor area and that all mop water must be dumped into the kitchen mop sink or the toilet.  Since he did not witness any mop water or wastewater on the ground or any leaks at the time of inspection, no violations were written.  DEP was subsequently notified of this fact and the complaint was closed out by them.  However, the PCDOH continues to monitor this situation and this condition to ensure that wastewater is not being discharged from the kitchen.  In fact, a follow up inspection was performed this afternoon and no evidence of improper waste water dumping or sewage/septic discharge was observed.

Second, with respect to the use of the sewer system to the property, a copy of DEP’s field inspection report, which is dated September 9, 2019, was emailed to the PCDOH on September 11, 2019.  A review of the matter was conducted and it has been determined that a violation of the Putnam County Sanitary Code and the 1993 approvals has occurred.  As such, a Notice of Non-Compliance is being issued to the property owners by the PCDOH.  Said Notice affords the property owner 30 days to achieve compliance before enforcement proceedings will be commenced.

Regardless of the above, the County does not have the ability to disconnect the sewer line, as it does not maintain jurisdiction over DEP’s wastewater treatment plant or the Town’s collection system.  It is our understanding that the cap on the force main in the manhole at the intersection of 6N and Clarke Place which was removed is either the property of the Town or DEP and that any recapping would therefore need to be addressed by them.

A retraction request was made on September 18 to clarify certain misrepresentations:

An email communication was sent to David Wilson and three (3) separate editors last evening from the Putnam County Attorney explaining that your newspaper that Mr. Wilson had misrepresented certain facts which were provided to him in writing by a secretary in the County Executive’s Office.  Specifically, you were advised that the email message was simply a recitation of the facts as outlined by a representative of that Department and that both the Commissioner of the Department of Health and his confidential secretary were absent from the office on the date that the inquiry was made, and as such, were not available to craft a response to your inquiries.  Therefore, the County Executive’s Office simply passed along a summary of what had occurred from the Department of Health’s perspective, a fact which was made plainly clear in that email.   As is also made clear in that email, all of the actions which were taken by the County of Putnam were taken by and through the Department of Health, as that is the agency with jurisdiction in this matter, and not by the County Executive’s Office.

Despite the foregoing, however, and despite having had this information at the time that your newspaper apparently went to print, Mr. Wilson led with a headline on page 1 below the fold that states “County Executive cites Barile for Violating Permit”, which is both factually inaccurate and misleading.  Once again, and in an effort to make this as clear as possible to you, the County Executive has absolutely no jurisdiction to cite anyone for a violation of the Putnam County Sanitary Code.  Mr. Wilson understood this fact at the time that you allowed him to go to print, since the article itself states that “a notice of non-compliance is being issued to the property owners by the Putnam County Department of Health”.  Including a headline that is misleading could potentially confuse your readers.

On behalf of the Putnam County Department of Health, I would therefore request that a retraction be printed to correct this error and to correctly inform the public as to the true nature of the facts of this case.

Putnam County recognizes September as National Preparedness Month

Prepared, Not Scared

Putnam County recognizes September as National Preparedness Month

BREWSTER, NY— The Ready campaign, launched in 2003, aims to promote preparedness through public involvement. This and every September, the campaign recognizes National Preparedness Month, to encourage family and community disaster and emergency planning. The 2019 theme is “Prepared, Not Scared.” The notion of preparedness is nothing new in Putnam. In the aftermath of 9/11 a bioterrorism task force was formed, and public health staff, first responders and other county agencies have been coming together to prepare for emergencies ever since. One exercise earlier this year focused on receiving “fake” medications and another full scale exercise will be conducted in October. These PHEP drills, which stands for Public Health Emergency Preparedness, are led by the Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH), and required by the New York State Department of Health.

“Our emergency response in Putnam continues to be top tier. Our Bureau of Emergency Services has a stellar record for ensuring county-wide communications during potential and actual disasters, and maintains an Enhanced 911 system,” says County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “First responders, healthcare workers, and volunteers work together and remain diligent and committed to our communities.”

“Local agencies have also banded together to support children, especially during an emergency,” says Putnam County Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD. “The Putnam Community Resilience Coalition [CRC], with the involvement of over two-dozen state and local agencies and the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, have set a foundation and provided leadership in developing approaches focusing on children before, during and after a disaster. Our health department continues to enact innovative approaches when it comes to starting a community conversation that is focused on safety and resolution, rather than fear and panic.” Work begun under the CRC grant is being sustained through enhancing mental health awareness and services throughout Putnam Schools and various provider groups.

At the 4-H fair this summer, visitors to the PCDOH booth were invited to take part in an online survey to assess their personal and household readiness by answering simple questions. Results from the survey indicated that lack of knowledge was a barrier for many in being prepared. Recognition of this will serve to shape future local preparedness initiatives. Recommendations to all residents include creating a “Grab and Go Kit” containing essential medicine and important papers in case of evacuation, as well as an Emergency Supply Kit should they need to stay in their homes for 2-3 days.

Additionally a large portion of survey participants reported getting weather emergency information from NY-Alert, a website and notification service providing critical, emergency-related information including instructions and recommendations in real-time by emergency personnel. New Yorkers can subscribe to NY-Alert and receive information that may include severe weather warnings, significant highway closures, hazardous material spills and other emergency conditions. All areas of New York State are included in the system, and you can decide which area you would like to receive alerts about. Signing up is free, and messages can be received by phone, email, text and fax. For more information or to sign up, visit https://alert.ny.gov/.

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.

Fast Start to Flu Season Predicted

Fast Start to Flu Season Predicted;

Three Public Fall Clinics Scheduled

BREWSTER, NY—Flu season will be here in Putnam County soon. The word from experts who monitor the flu’s earlier arrival in other parts of the world is not encouraging. Australia for example had triple the number of influenza cases soon after the start of their season last May. The good news is the Putnam County Department of Health has scheduled its fall flu clinics and residents can mark their calendars to make sure they get their shots on time.

“To protect yourself, your family and your community, get a flu shot,” says County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “It is an easy, relatively painless, step you can take, and our health department works to make it convenient for you. Clinics are open to the public at local fire departments, and our nurses travel to senior centers and our schools to immunize these residents.”

Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD, Commissioner of Health, also strongly recommends getting a flu shot, saying, “Getting vaccinated is your best option, even if the vaccine is not 100 percent effective. When you get a flu shot and you still get the flu, your chance of serious complications is reduced, along with the length of time you may be sick. People forget how serious the flu can be. Nearly 80,000 people died from it here in the U.S. the season before last,” he said, referring to the estimate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The dates and locations for the three scheduled fall clinics are: Monday, September 23, at the Carmel Fire Department, 94 Gleneida Avenue (Route 52) and Vink Drive; Thursday, October 10, at the Garrison Fire Department, 1616 Route 9, and Monday, October 21, at the Carmel Fire Department. Each clinic runs from 2 to 6:30 p.m.

Early vaccination is important. The shot only starts to work about two weeks after it is given. Certain people should be extra sure to get vaccinated. They include pregnant women; children 6 months through 18 years of age; people over 50 years of age; those with chronic, or long-lasting, medical conditions, and those who live with or care for them. Health care workers are also required to get the flu vaccine to protect their patients.

Flu shots are important for other reasons too. Medical costs and work absenteeism are reduced. Flu immunization is also the right thing to do for the community. It builds “herd immunity,” protecting those who can’t be vaccinated because they are too young or have a specific medical condition.

The public flu clinics are open to all Putnam County residents 18 years of age and older. Proof of residency is required, along with a signed consent form. Forms will be available at the clinics, but residents are encouraged to download and complete the form ahead of time. Forms are posted on the health department’s immunization page on the Putnam County website at www.putnamcountyny.com/health/immunization. The fee for vaccination 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. (Pneumonia vaccine will not be offered at the flu clinics.)

Additional public flu clinics may be held later this year. Information on future dates will be posted on the health department’s website and on social media, and announced on the department’s flu hotline. The number is 808-1390, press option “2.” For school clinics check the school calendar or with the school nurse for details.

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