For the second consecutive week, cases of influenza have jumped dramatically. There were 404 cases reported from November 27 to December 3, as compared to 186 cases for the week ending November 26 and just 56 cases for the week ending November 19. Half of the cases in the most recent reporting week are in school-aged children, five to 17 years of age. COVID numbers are also on the rise with 267 cases reported for the week ending December 3 as compared to 201 for the week ending November 26.
Speaking of the rise in flu cases, Putnam County Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat MD says, “The incidence of disease is high, but particularly for our school-aged children. And keep in mind, we are only 8 weeks into flu season. Putnam is not alone– rates are extremely high across New York state. In fact, NYSDOH just reported the State’s first influenza-associated pediatric death this season. We want to get the message out that the influenza vaccine this year has proven to be a good match for the currently circulating flu strains, and getting vaccinated now could help families enjoy a healthy holiday season. Talk to your healthcare provider and protect yourself and your children now.”
Influenza is a serious respiratory illness, as is COVID-19. Earlier this week the Centers for Disease Control reported that there have been 14 pediatric flu deaths in the U.S. so far this year. CDC estimates the number of annual flu deaths between 12,000 to 52,000, and hospitalizations from 140,000 to 710,000, based on actual ranges between 2010 and 2020.
The message is simple: get vaccinated for flu and COVID now because time is running out before the holidays. It takes nearly two weeks for the immune system to fully respond to a vaccine. The good news is that this year’s flu shot is proving to be a good fit for the currently circulating virus strains and both vaccines are readily available from healthcare providers or at local pharmacies. Other practices to prevent the spread of any respiratory illness include staying home when sick, frequent hand washing and covering all coughs and sneezes.
Public health initiatives work to address barriers to accessing basic healthcare, including vaccinations. Clinics are held in the Village of Brewster, supported by the NYSDOH Migrant and Seasonal Farm Worker (MSFW) program which ensures eligible residents receive access to vital vaccinations, while helping to address vaccine equity. The next MSFW clinic will be held on December 13, at 83 Main Street. For more information on the MSFW program and to check eligibility, or to find out more about regularly immunization clinics at the health department, call 845-808-1390, x 43230.
The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), is to improve and protect the health of the entire Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services are provided through a lens of equity, and include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our county website at www.putnamcountyny.com, or visit our social media sites on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @PutnamHealthNY.