Central New York, Health, Health Care

Central New York Health Officials Fight the Flu

The Onondaga County Health Center is fighting the widespread flu this winter (c)2018 A.J. Fabbri


Click the play button above to learn how Oswego County residents can receive flu shots, even if they do not have health insurance

Audio Transcript:   Fabbri_OswegoHealthDepartment_Script

By A.J. Fabbri SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News)– As the flu continues to decimate the area, Central New York health officials are saying that vaccinations are readily available to all.

Jiancheng Huang, the Oswego County director of public health, is imploring citizens to receive the shot as flu season reaches its peak. The Oswego County Health Department is administering vaccinations at its walk-in clinic, even if the patrons do not have health insurance.

“Finance should not be a barrier for you to get a flu vaccine, at least in Oswego County. Yes we provide the vaccine to people with insurance, and if you are without insurance you can come and make arrangements,” Huang said.

This season has produced hundreds of different strands of the virus, making it especially difficult to defend against. Although the vaccine does not completely eliminate the chance of catching the flu, one who receives the shot and catches the virus will experience less severe symptoms than one without the shot.

Huang reported that 78 percent of the flu cases that were confirmed in Oswego County came from those who were not vaccinated. Oswego walk-in clinics are offering shots for $41.

Meanwhile, the Onondaga County Health Department is offering free vaccines to county citizens at its walk-in clinics, regardless of the recipient’s health insurance plan. Public health educator Karyn Johnson is working to spread awareness of the availability of the shot to shelters, elderly homes, and schools in the area.

“We don’t even ask for insurance proof. Whether you have it or not, you can get the vaccine for free there this year,” Johnson said. “We just want to make sure people can get [the shot] because we know there are vulnerable populations in our community who can’t afford health insurance.”  

The department reported 1,580 cases of the flu in Onondaga County alone since mid- October. This led to the department’s private purchase of vaccines in order to distribute it free of charge.

Huang and Johnson both said that it is not too late to get vaccinated, as flu season can sometimes last until late May. Walk-in clinics are held on Tuesdays from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Nick Sterio Public Health Clinic in Oswego, and Wednesday mornings from 9 a.m. to 12 noon at the Civic Center, Room 30, in Syracuse.