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Health Alliance Urges Flu Shots

The Western New York Public Health Alliance is urging the public over the age of 6 months to get a flu vaccine to protect themselves from the effects of influenza.

Influenza is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently, but millions of people get flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands to tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against flu. Vaccination has been shown to have many benefits, cdc.gov/flu/prevent/keyfacts.htm#benefits, including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and even the risk of flu-related death in children.

It is important that people understand how the flu vaccine works. Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are used to make the vaccine.

The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. Most flu vaccines in the United States protect against four different flu viruses: an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus and two influenza B viruses. There are also some flu vaccines that protect against three different flu viruses: an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus and one influenza B virus. Two of the trivalent vaccines are designed specifically for people 65 and older to create a stronger immune response

For more information, contact your local health department — Christine Schuyler, Chautauqua County public health director at 753-4590 or Lori Ballengee, Allegany County public health director at 585-268-9250 — or go to the Center for Disease Control website, cdc.gov/flu.

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