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HealthWatch: Flu

Flu Shot (credit: AP)

Flu Shot (credit: AP)

maxgomez Dr. Max Gomez
Award-winning broadcast journalist Dr. Max Gomez rejoined WCBS-TV as a...
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NEW YORK (CBS 2/1010 WINS) – New York State was reporting widespread flu activity while New Jersey and Connecticut were reporting regional activity, but they’ll likely soon also be reporting widespread actvity. Dr. Max Gomez spoke with the New York State Health Department, and they said flu cases were rising dramatically,  and hospitalizations last week doubled over the week before.

1010 WINS’ Alice Stockton-Rossini reports

If you don’t know anyone with the flu yet, it might not be long before you do. Nearly 1,000 positive flu tests were reported in New York last week and those are just the cases that were actually tested.

The good news is that there is plenty of vaccine this year, and the vaccine protects against the H1N1 virus and two other strains, so you only need one shot this year.

And despite what you’ve heard, you cannot get the flu from a flu shot.

“That’s a very common scenario. Patients will get a viral respiratory infection, the common cold.  They get nasal stuffiness, sneezing, post nasal  drainage, a little bit of a cough. But they don’t have the flu,” said internist Dr. Steve Lindsey.

The flu vaccine is made with killed or dead virus so it really can’t give you the flu.

What concerns the state is that while vaccination rates were pretty good earlier in the fall, they seem to have dropped off significantly recently, just as flu rates are going up.

Plus, those case numbers are running high for this early in the season. Flu usually doesn’t peak until February.

And remember, you can be infected with the flu virus and not actually get sick for up to a week, but during that time you’re still out spreading the virus to others and for tens of thousands of Americans, that can be deadly.

“The H1N1 that we saw last time had a particular propensity for killing relatively young people and it was particularly severe in individuals who were overweight and we had a number of cases in our hospitals  last year young  people who lost their lives to H1N1,” said
Dr. David Martin, Infectious Disease Specialist.

So while frequent hand washing and staying away from people who are coughing and sneezing can help, by far the best way to keep from getting the flu is to get a flu shot.

It’s not too late. You start making antibodies right away and don’t forget that flu season doesn’t peak for more than a month so you’ll be protected by then.

If needles bother you, the nasal spray will work, provided that you’re healthy and between the ages of two and 49.

It’s not for people with asthma or weakened immune systems such as folks with HIV or cancer because the flu mist vaccine is made with a weakened flu virus, not a dead one and so you can get the flu from the spray if your immune system isn’t up to snuff.