Flu season is on the way and health officials are putting out the annual reminder to get vaccinated. But this year, doctors want everyone to get their shots early. Our Lori Chung has more.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- State Health Commissioner Nirav Shah sets the example he wants all New Yorkers to follow by getting his annual flu shot before the season gets underway.
"This year, we're making a special push to get everyone vaccinated early," said Shah.
Though officials describe last year's flu season as mild, the unpredictability of the virus keeps health workers on alert.
"The strain of the virus can vary considerably from one year to the next, so it's essential that we stay on top of the strains in real time."
That work is done at the state's viral diseases lab. This year's new vaccine will protect against two strains of type A flu, including H1N1, and one strain of type B.
"The CDC and the WHO [are] really completely dependent on labs such as this for the surveillance data to know what is circulating," said lab chief Dr. Kirsten St. George.
Despite the testing, officials say there's actual no way to eradicate the flu. So, in the meantime, there really just one thing we all can do.
"We need to simply look to control it, control its spread, control its severity and the best way to do that is by vaccinating," said St. George.
As always, officials especially recommend the flu shot for children and the elderly because of their increased health risks. But even last year's mild flu season saw over 1,100 flu related hospitalizations and one child death, so officials are asking that everyone roll up their sleeves and get the vaccine.