Some Basics to Prepare Yourself
for the Flu Season
Flu (or influenza) is a seasonal respiratory (lung) infection that causes fever and a cough or sore throat. It is most common during the fall and winter months.
Vaccination is the BEST way to protect against the flu. Flu vaccine can be given in a shot (needle injection), or in a nasal spray called FluMist (for healthy people aged 2 to 49). Your doctor can tell you what is right for you.
Seasonal flu vaccinations are available from September through June. Anyone who wants to avoid seasonal flu should get vaccinated as early as possible each fall.
The H1N1 influenza virus, in conjunction with the seasonal flu, has the potential to cause significant illness, hospitalizations and deaths this flue season, according to the State of New York Department of Health.
What's the best way to prevent the seasonal flu and H1N1 flu?
Who should receive the vaccine for the seasonal flu?
- Children aged 6 months to 18 years
- Pregnant women
- Health care workers
- People aged 50 and older
- People with long-term health problems such as diabetes, lung disease, asthma,heart disease, kidney disease, sickle cell anemia, a weakened immune system, long term aspirin therapy for people under 19, and seizure, neuromuscular and other disorders that cause breathing problems
- People in nursing homes and other long-term-care facilities
- Household members and caregivers of children under 5 especially infants younger than 6 months. (Babies this age can get the flu, but are too young for a flu shot.)
- People living with or caring for others who are over 50
- People living with or caring for others who have long-term health problems
Where can I get a seasonal flu vaccination?
- Get your yearly flu vaccination from your family doctor or primary-care provider.
- Many pharmacies now offer flu vaccinations for adults.
- Many employers offer free or low-cost vaccinations.
- People 50 and older can get free flu vaccinations at select city senior centers (call 311 to find out where).
- Flu vaccinations are available at no cost at Health Department immunization clinics, and at low or no cost at Health and Hospitals Corporation facilities.
Will my seasonal flu vaccination protect me against H1N1(swine flu) influenza?
No. Seasonal flu vaccine will not work against H1N1 flu. To protect against both kinds of flu, people will need 2 different vaccinations: one for seasonal flu, and one for H1N1. A new H1N1 vaccine has just been developed. People will need 2 doses of H1N1 vaccine, given 3 or more weeks apart.
Who should receive the new H1N1 vaccine?
The following people should get H1N1 influenza vaccine when it becomes available, in addition to a seasonal flu vaccination:
- Pregnant women
- People aged 6 months to 24 years
- People living with or caring for children younger than 5 especially infants younger than 6 months. (Babies this age can get the flu, but are too young for a flu shot.)
- Health care and emergency medical services workers
- People aged 25 to 64 years with long-term health problems (see list above) and those caring for them.
- People aged 65 and over are not at high risk of illness from H1N1 flu, and do not need to receive the H1N1 flu vaccine.
Where can I get the H1N1 vaccine?
Contact your primary care physician or find a flu vaccination clinic near you.
How can I prevent getting the flu in the first place?
To prevent the spread of flu and other infections:
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Use a tissue or the inside of your elbow not your hand.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
- Dont get too close to people who are sick. Maintain a distance of 3 feet. If you get sick yourself, avoid close contact with other people.