The national “Flu + You” campaign brought its message to Pittsburgh, stopping at the Homewood Senior Center to urge residents to get vaccinated against influenza. Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald were on hand, emphasizing the importance of getting the vaccine.
“Our immune systems, as we reach a certain age, start to become not as strong as they might have been earlier, so flu shots are very important,” said Fitzgerald, “we need to continue to get the word out that our seniors need to be healthy, need to get their flu vaccine so they can continue to live the good life we have here in Pittsburgh.”
Those over the age of 65 and the very young are encouraged to get vaccinated against influenza because the immune systems of those age groups are most vulnerable. But, Dr. Ron Voorhies, Acting Director of Allegheny County Health Department, said it’s important for everyone to get vaccinated sooner rather than later.
“We know that influenza comes every year, we don’t know exactly when, we don’t know exactly which virus will come, but we know it’s going to come. It may come in October, it may come in January, but the important thing is – you want to get prepared before it comes so your body has time to build up immunity against influenza,” he said.
Still, the flu can hit seniors harder than anyone. Every year in the U.S. nine out of 10 flu-related deaths and more than six out of 10 flu-related hospitalizations occur in people over the age of 65. The flu shot is a covered benefit under Medicare, and free vaccines were offered at the Homewood event. For information on vaccination clinics throughout Pittsburgh call: 412-408-2900.
In addition to vaccination, the Allegheny County Health Department offers tips on keeping influenza at bay:
Influenza PrecautionsWays to Fight the Flu
Wash your hands often, with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
Avoid people who are sick. Stay home from work and school when you’re sick.
Keep your distance from others when you’re sick.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then throw it away immediately. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth after touching any objects or surfaces that might be contaminated