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"We're calling those who are at high risk, asking them to come in," said Gary Evans, office supervisor at the Pediatric Care Group in Jenkintown. "Our providers looked at this [the calls] as a major initiative.
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To assist those residents who are unable to obtain flu shots from their doctors this year, a few select community clinics have been scheduled in partnership with senior centers throughout Westchester and will be held at various sites between October 19 and November 17.
Health Department To Offer Flu Shot Clinics
The Westchester County Health Department is encouraging residents to plan ahead and make arrangements with their health care providers to get seasonal flu shots as early as possible.
“While a great deal of attention is being paid to novel H1N1 influenza (“swine flu”), residents should not overlook the need to protect themselves against the regular flu, which is responsible for approximately 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths annually in the United States,” said Dr. Joshua Lipsman. “While we will certainly be keeping a close eye on the H1N1 virus, our primary focus right now is being sure that someone who needs or wants a regular flu shot schedules an appointment with your medical provider to receive one.”
For those who are unable to get flu shots from their doctors, Health Department community clinics will provide regular flu shots to Westchester residents age 50 and older and to non-pregnant adults 18 to 49 years of age with chronic medical conditions. Children under age 18 should receive their flu shots from a primary care provider.
Residents interested in attending one of the community flu clinics should call the Westchester County Health Department at (914) 813-5000 for information on dates and locations. They then will need to call the clinic sites of their choice to make appointments. Appointments are necessary to ensure that sufficient vaccine is available at the site.
The Health Department will also offer pneumococcal vaccinations at the community flu shot clinics. Those between the ages of 18 and 64 years of age who have chronic medical conditions may be able to get pneumococcal vaccine if they bring a prescription from a primary care provider. For those 65 years of age and older, a single pneumococcal vaccine usually offers protection for life and no prescription is needed. However, those receiving their first pneumococcal vaccine at a younger age may require a booster shot after five years.
“An estimated 5,000 people die from invasive pneumococcal disease each year, nearly half of which are older adults for whom vaccination is recommended,” said Dr. Lipsman.
For residents with Medicare Part B or Aetna Medicare coverage, there is no charge for the flu shot. For others, the fee is $20. For residents with Medicare Part B or Aetna Medicare coverage, there is no charge for the pneumococcal vaccine. For others, the fee is $35.
Flu season typically runs from October through April, but regular flu was present in Westchester last year even in May and June. The strains of influenza circulating in the community vary from year to year, making annual vaccination necessary for protection. The flu vaccine requires one to two weeks to take effect and offers protection throughout the entire usual season.
Certain categories of people should consult their primary care providers before getting a flu shot. These include people who:
- are allergic to eggs or have a history of a serious reaction to the flu vaccine in the past (i.e. fever, rash or breathing difficulties); - have had Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a neurological illness following viral infections, or have a chronic neurological illness; - have an acute illness with fever or serious breathing difficulties.
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