Flu cases have nearly quadrupled in Genesee County so far this season
Genesee County is not immune from one of the worst outbreaks of flu in New York on record.
Health Department Director Paul Pettit said there have been 149 confirmed cases of flu in Genesee County so far this season, compared to just 38 at this point last year.
"This type of increase has been seen across the state and country," Pettit said.
Across the state, there were 6,083 flu cases reported according to the state's Department of Health. There were 1,606 people hospitalized with confirmed cases of the flu in New York. That's the highest number recorded since the state started tracking flu cases in 2004.
There have been no flu-related deaths reported in Genesee County, Pettit said.
Across the nation, 30 children have died as a result of the flu, and the majority of those children were probably not vaccinated, the CDC reports. Adult flu-related deaths are generally not reported and tracked.
Dr. Dan Jernigan, director of the influenza division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said he's concerned that early reports that the current vaccine is only 10 percent effective may have misled people into thinking they shouldn't bother with the vaccine.
Even if the vaccine doesn't prevent a person from contracting a specific flu strain, it does lessen the severity of the symptoms and can help avoid hospitalization. The current vaccine does protect against multiple strains of flu. Flu shots also helps prevent the spread of the flu, especially to vulnerable people such as children and the elderly.
Pettit encouraged local residents to get vaccinated soon.
"The season typically peaks by the end of February, so we are still strongly encouraging folks to get the flu shot," Pettit said. "It remains the best protection for yourself and others and getting the shot often helps reduce the severity and duration of the flu if you do get it."