By Senator Mark Grisanti
We are currently in the midst of a bad flu season. With this in mind, I wanted to provide you with some helpful information about the flu, including details about recent legislation I sponsored that was passed in the New York State Senate last year but was not voted on in the New York State Assembly.
According to the State Health Department, it's not too late to get vaccinated for this year's flu season. Most people six months and older are recommended to receive an influenza vaccination each year. The vaccine is especially important for people who run a high risk of developing serious complications. That includes pregnant women, children under the age of five, adults aged 65 or older, and people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions.
Influenza - commonly referred to as the flu - is a severe respiratory illness that is easily spread and can lead to severe complications, even death. Each year in the U.S. on average, influenza and its related complications result in approximately 226,000 hospitalizations and over 23,600 deaths. Combined with pneumonia, influenza is the nation's eighth leading cause of death.
The flu can pose far greater health risks than those presented by the common cold. It is common sense for you and your family to take all appropriate steps to avoid the flu and its potentially serious consequences.
Recently I introduced legislation to expand influenza vaccination programs by providing insurance coverage for the influenza vaccine and its administration at all authorized locations. This legislation will provide an opportunity to make vaccinations easily available in locations such as schools and school-based health centers, which makes for a safer and healthier school environment.
Children who are vaccinated are much less likely to contract influenza and miss school days. Increasing the vaccination rates is critical to protecting public health and preventing the spread of the virus to vulnerable individuals in the community such as children and young adults who are three to four times more likely to be infected with influenza.
I encourage you to visit www.flu.gov for helpful facts on how to avoid getting the flu. This official government website also includes an easy-to-use “Flu Vaccine Finder” to help you find the most convenient place to get vaccinated. You simply enter your zip code to find a range of local options that are available. Once you have identified a location, you should call ahead to verify the availability of the vaccine, as well as local hours of operation.