“This is the year getting the flu shot counts even more,” said Dr Oxiris Barbot, commissioner of the city’s health department.
What would you like to know
- Officials: About 1 in 2 New Yorkers get the flu shot. The target is 70% this year.
- Flu vaccine will help conserve health care resources needed for COVID-19 patients
- New York plans first shipment of flu shots between mid-August and end of August
Public health experts say the pandemic offers two new reasons to get the flu shot. First, the early symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 are similar – fever, body aches, cough.“Because they are difficult to distinguish clinically, it’s more important to do whatever you can to prevent the flu,” explained Dr. Edward Chapnick, director of infectious diseases at Maimonides Medical Center. “It will definitely help determine what is causing illness if you do develop a disease.”
There is also a need to conserve health care resources, which means preventing as many of New York City as possible from being hospitalized with the flu, so that beds can be reserved for people with COVID-19 in second peak case.
In the last flu season, more than 22,000 people with the flu were hospitalized across the city and state.
“What keeps me from sleeping at night is that few New Yorkers get the flu shot, we end up having a bad flu season on top of a second wave and I don’t want us – we as a city have worked too hard to get to where we are, ”said Barbot.
Nearly one in two New Yorkers get a flu shot, according to the city’s health department. But this year he’s aiming higher, hoping to get around 70%. The strategy is to partner with community leaders who will share the message that influenza vaccines are safe and effective.
“Now, if your definition of effectiveness is 100%, well, it’s definitely not 100% effective,” Chapnick explained. “Most years it’s around 50%, and it’s been a while since I’ve picked up basic arithmetic, but I think the number 50 is way higher than the number 0.
“What’s the problem?” added Dr Miriam Smith, head of the medical department at LIJ Forest Hills. “Aside from the local discomfort at the injection site, there is nothing wrong with getting the vaccine. It is strongly encouraged. ”
New Yorkers should start getting their flu shot as soon as it becomes available in August, Barbot says.
Anyone can find a vaccination location using the NYC Health Map on the city’s website.
Main story image: LM Otero, File / AP.
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