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December 9, 2017 - 3:36pm

Health officials urge public to get flu shot to protect against 'the ruthless virus'

posted by Billie Owens in public health column, flu, news, Announcements.

Press release:

Flu season is here, whether we’re ready for it, or not. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has declared the first week in December National Influenza Vaccination Week. This week heightens awareness that the flu vaccine is still available for those who have not protected themselves against the ruthless virus.

According to Mari Hamilton, public health educator for the Genesee County Health Department, the latest weekly influenza surveillance report of the Center for Disease Control confirms cases of the flu in Genesee County.

The flu has the ability to infect each and every one of us, even those who claim they “never get the flu.” The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. Symptoms of the flu include:

  • Cough
  • Fever Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (very tired)
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

The flu virus spreads by tiny droplets produced when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. A person can contract the flu by breathing in these tiny droplets. It is also possible for an individual to pick up the flu by touching an item that has the flu virus on it, such as a phone, door knob, or keyboard and then touch their mouth, nose or face.

It is important to not only protect yourself from the flu but also protect the ones you love as well. Anyone who develops the flu can pass it along to someone at high risk of severe illness, including the elderly and infants younger than 6 months who are too young to get the vaccine.

Brenden Bedard, director of Community Health Services of Genesee and Orleans Counties, explains that “children, pregnant women, individuals with chronic illnesses (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or lung disease), and people aged 65 years and older are at a much higher risk for developing critical health issues due to the flu.

These individuals may have a weakened immune system, therefore making it more difficult for them to fight off the flu. These individuals are more likely to be hospitalized due to severe flu complications.”

In 2016 there were 282 reported lab cases of the flu confirmed in Genesee County and 83 reported lab cases of the flu confirmed in Orleans County. These numbers are projected to increase this flu season. The New York State Department of Health already has lab cases of the flu confirmed in Genesee County. Receiving an annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect against this very serious disease.

“The flu vaccine is altered each year based on the surveillance data that experts collect to predict what strains of the virus will cause the most illness," Bedard said. "That means that the flu vaccine you received last year may be different than the one created this year. It is also notable to state that over time the flu vaccine does wear off, making it necessary to receive it annually.”

After you receive your flu shot, it is important to take preventative measures to continue staying healthy.

  • Good handwashing is a habit that should be practiced all year round. During flu season, it is crucial to scrub your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap. Use a paper towel to open the door.
  • Wipe off surfaces with a disinfectant solution regularly to get rid of germs.
  • Sneeze and cough into your elbow.
  • Be courteous to dispose of used tissues into a waste bin and wash your hands after.
  • Stay home if you are sick!
  • Eat a diet rich in healthy nutrients such as fruits and vegetables containing antioxidants and vitamins.
    • Sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, and citrus fruits are great examples.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Receive about 7-9 restful hours of sleep each night.

Getting the flu vaccine not only protects yourself, but the people around you as well. With the flu activity increasing and family and friends gathering for the holidays, now is a great time to get a flu vaccine if you have not already received one this season. To find a location near you to receive your flu shot, please visit: https://vaccinefinder.org/

For information about services that your local health department provides visit:

tom hunt
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Media is reporting that this year's flu shot is only 10% effective.against the current strain of the flu. I had my shot back in September, and am just getting over a respiratory infection. I don't know if it was the flu, but it had me down for a couple of weeks.

Cheryl Saville
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I was in a group of women, all over 65yrs of age, who all said the same thing as Tom Hunt. The drug manufacturer is raking in profits on this. I was going to get my flu shot this week. Now, I think I'll pass.

Howard B. Owens
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OK, so the vaccine isn't 100 percent effective this year. It wasn't last year either, or the year before, and it won't be next year.

That's hardly an argument against getting vaccinated.

There is ample reason to get vaccinated and absolutely no reason (except for a specific diagnosed health concern) not to get vaccinated.

It's not just about your health. It's about the health of everybody you may come in contact with. It's the socially responsible thing to do. It makes no sense not to get vaccinated.

Cheryl Saville
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What you say is true Howard. If it were even only 50% effective I'd get it. But 10% effectiveness is not good enough for me.

John Roach
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I got mine. I don't care if it's 10%, 50% or not. If I don't get the flu, then I guess it worked. If I do get it, maybe it will not be as bad as it might have been. Bottom line-it can't hurt.

Brian Graz
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My daughter is a software writer/senior team leader for an international pharmaceutical clinical trials company, [name withheld] that creates and manages drug testing all over the world. She recently sent this to me.

"I seem to be in a very small minority of people that don't get this vaccine and don't give it to my children. But a little more reason to confirm my thoughts on this! Surely won't be any flu vaccines in my house." http://ewao.com/2017/08/16/johns-hopkins-researcher-releases-shocking-re...

Howard B. Owens
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You're posting false information, Brian.

https://www.snopes.com/medical/disease/flushot.asp

The article you link to contains references to Squalene, a claim that was debunked as far back as 2009.

https://www.wired.com/2009/10/squalene-not-to-worry/

There is all kinds of non-scientific bunk floating around there about vaccines. None of it is credible, including this nonsense.

ewao.com itself is a classic fake news site, filled with click-bait false information aimed at suckering people into the site so they can serve you programmatic ads that pay them on a per-impression basis.

Here's more information from the CDC

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/adjuvant.htm

Here's more actual scientific information

http://cvi.asm.org/content/13/9/1010.full

Brian Graz
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You believe SNOPES... ??!!! Good luck

I'll stick with my daughter's assessment... she has worked in the industry for over 12 years and is a senior group leader in pharamceutical clinical trials [world-wide]... you are a... Batavia news reporter...

Howard B. Owens
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Yes, I believe Snopes. The editors do careful, fact-based research. The only people who don't like Snopes are those who don't like facts that contradict their prejudices and biases.

I also believe the CDC, peer-reviewed scientifically research and solid journalism such as Wired.com, not some random, made up, fake website.

I know nothing about your daughter. I'm sure she's a very smart woman. But being a software engineer and group leader is not the same thing as being a scientist. I cited for you actual science, not some random web link (as you did).

Here's a book for you: https://www.amazon.com/Death-Expertise-Campaign-Established-Knowledge/dp...

Brian Graz
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Next time you get a flu shot, tell them to give you a double... you can have mine.

Brian Graz
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It’s really unfortunate that so many so-called skeptics use Snopes as if it is the sole arbiter of factual information. The truth is Snopes does make it convenient for people that are impatient, unwilling to spend time reading sources for themselves. Fact-checking, depending on the topic, can take hours, weeks, months, even years. We have so many people with a short-attention span that would rather visit a website for a few seconds and then come to what they think is an informed decision.

As a practicing scientist and professor that teaches sound science, facts are critical. We make some of our most important decisions based on what we’re told, read, see, hear, etc. This is why I’m so vocal about this issue and why we try to stamp out pseudoskepticism, pseudoscience, and biased data. Social media makes it really easy for people to mindlessly parrot misinformation, spreading it quickly around the world. This also makes it harder for students to find just the facts.

As you know from our lecture, we discuss biases in scientific data sets. We talked about where biases come from, such as money, political affiliation, and religion. These are things that can influence someone to pick and choose facts or come to a conclusion different than what is suggested by the data itself. We each have to do our part to make sure our own personal biases do not interfere with finding facts.

I’ve actually been reviewing hundreds of Snopes.com articles over the past few years. It takes many years to be able to recognize subtle biases, especially if there is a purposeful obfuscation of process or people involved. There is no doubt in my mind that Snopes.com is not a neutral, rigorously fact-checked source that you should rely on for decision-making. I don’t have the time or interest to study Snopes any further because I’ve seen enough. However, I encourage you to take a look at numerous articles, research the sources they list, verify the claims for yourself, and then come to your own conclusions about Snopes and its content. I also encourage you to see other articles (example, example) from other journalists that are also concerned about how biased Snopes and its writers are.

https://ultratechlife.com/blog/ask-a-science-professor-is-snopes-com-unb...

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