1,843 Bronx residents, the most in all 62 New York State counties, were diagnosed with the flu last week in one of the largest flu outbreaks the country has seen in recent years.
Since October, 6,742 Bronxites (second only to Queens with 7,410 cases however, rate of incidence by population is higher in The Bronx) have been diagnosed with the flu in total and that number is expected to rise as the flu season continues.
It should, however, come to no surprise that more Bronx residents are coming down with the flu considering that our borough has the worst health statistics and outcomes in New York State.
With the highest rates of HIV in the state, we have more individuals with compromised immune systems.
We also have some of the highest rates of diabetes in the nation which is a deadly disease that also weakens the immune system.
According to the Center for Disease Control, people with asthma, heart disease, and are obese are also susceptible to the flu and sadly our borough suffers from some of the highest rates of these medical conditions in the state.
These are just a few of the medical factors behind why it’s possible we are suffering with such high flu rates in The Bronx and we’re not even touching open the poor economic status of many Bronx residents which plays a critical role in health outcomes.
So what can you do?
Take 3 Steps to Fight Flu
1. Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.
- People who are at high risk for influenza complications should contact a health care professional promptly if they get flu symptoms, even if they have been vaccinated this season.
- If you get sick with flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat your illness.
- CDC recommends rapid treatment of seriously ill and high-risk flu patients with antiviral drugs.
- It is very important that antiviral drugs are used early to treat hospitalized patients, people with severe flu illness, and people who are at high risk of serious flu complications based on their age or health.
2. Take every day preventative actions to help prevent the spread of germs.
- If possible, try to avoid close contact with sick people. If you do get sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Also, clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like flu.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth because germs spread this way. Cover mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
3. If you have not gotten a flu vaccine yet this season, get vaccinated now – it’s not too late!
- As long as flu viruses are circulating, vaccination should continue throughout flu season, even in January or later.
- Everyone 6 months of age and older is recommended to get vaccinated against flu every year, with rare exceptions.
- Flu vaccine is used to prevent flu illness, not treat it.
- Flu vaccines protect against three or four different flu viruses.
- It takes two weeks after vaccination for the immune system to fully respond and for these antibodies to provide protection.
- With many more weeks of flu activity expected for this flu season, there is still time to get vaccinated if you haven’t already done so. As long as flu viruses are circulating, vaccination can protect you against flu.
- Important reminder for parents and caregivers: Some children 6 months through 8 years of age will require two doses of flu vaccine for adequate protection from flu. Children in this age group who are getting vaccinated for the first time will need two doses of flu vaccine, spaced at least 28 days apart. Some children who have received flu vaccine previously also may need two doses. Your child’s doctor or other health care personnel can tell you if your child needs two doses.
- CDC typically conducts studies throughout the influenza season to help determine how well flu vaccines are working. While vaccine effectiveness can vary, recent studies by CDC researchers and other experts indicate that flu vaccination reduces the risk of influenza illness by 30% to 60% among the overall population when the vaccine viruses are like the ones spreading in the community.
So during this flu season, please take care of yourselves and wash your hands frequently, try not to hug and kiss or shake hands as greetings as much as possible.
People will be grateful and not offended because you’re trying to keep them safe.