Get your flu shot

Residents of Onondaga County can now trade in the constant running-nose, fever and aching body for an influenza-free season.

The Onondaga County Health Department has released its upcoming flu vaccination clinic schedule, in partnership with Visiting Nurse Association of CNY, Inc. and Maxim Health Systems, a wellness provider organization. Beginning this week 15 flu clinics will be made available throughout the county for five weeks to anyone who wants to receive an immunization shot. The last day to attend a flu clinic is Wednesday, Nov. 26.

"Thirty-six thousand people die every year from it--and it's a preventative measure," Amanda Nestor, Onondaga County public administrator of health, said. "I'd take a sore arm over dying any day."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Web site, 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications a year. Nestor said the flu shot is the best way to prevent the illness. The only side effects from receiving the flu shot are a sore arm and perhaps some redness.

"You don't get the flu from the flu shot. It's just not possible," she added.

Nestor has headed the county's flu immunization clinics for the past nine years, and said she has always been "first in line" for the flu shot. Each year the county arranges at least 15 or 16 clinics in the area. Though last year there were 16, Nestor said there is no particular reason why the number decreased by one this year. "The number tends to fluctuate between the two," she said.

In the past, there have been severe flu immunization shortages, Nestor said, but she does not see that problem arising this year. Flu immunizations take a long time to grow, and delay in the growth process is what causes shortages, she explained. Also, shortages can result when a particular type of immunization shot does not meet Food and Drug Administration Standards. But Nestor said, the county has an abundance of flu shots. "This year we are flushed with vaccines. We've had them since August," she said.

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