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A Spike in Flu Cases Means a Hike in Advice to Get a Flu Shot

WAER File Photo

The flu looks like it’s getting a jump start on the normal infection season here in Central New York.  Pharmacist Shannon Miller is Director of Patient Outcomes for Kinney Drugs.  She says reported cases in the state jumped 77% in the last week. 

The good news is the vaccine for flu shots is both widely available and effective.

“It seems to be a good match this year; that’s what we’re seeing.  We have the regular quadrivalent vaccine that covers against four strains of the flu.  We have the high-dose vaccine for the seniors which gives more of an immune response and hopefully works better.”

Kinney Drugs is among a variety of pharmacies and drug stores locally offering flu shots, along with Walgreens, Wegmansand others.  Miller says the vaccine at drug stores is the same as what you might get at your doctor’s office because the CDC mandates the specific strains it covers.  She also dispels thoughts about negative reactions to flu shots … other than minor discomfort.

Onondaga County Health Data shows this year's cases (in red) are outpacing the three previoius years. Also, the number of cases typically rises through mid-February.

“…side-effects such as a sore arm; you could have a little, tiny fever, like 99 (degrees).  That’s just your body reacting to the vaccine and building up that immune response.  You can’t get the flu from the flu shot and there’s really no common side serious side effects.”

Onondaga County mirrors the state’s spike in cases.  The most recent data from the second week in December show 122 people in the county confirmed to have the flu – twice the number reported two weeks earlier.  The number of sick people for this time of year is also well ahead of the past three years.  Miller from Kinney Drugs advises people not to wait for a flu shot.

“It’s better to get it sooner, rather than later.  Don’t think that just because there’s flu circulating, it’s too late; it’s not too late.  We generally see the peak of flu season around February.  And just to know that when you get your flu shot, it takes about two weeks to work.  So, the sooner you get it, the better.” 

She adds other prevention includes washing hands, using sanitizer, and not going to school or work to not be around other people when you’re sick with the contagious disease.    

County statistics show a steady rise int he number of reported flu cases since early November.

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.