WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Lots of Westchester residents don't need to be told the flu is hitting hard this year while they are suffering from running, stuffy noses, coughing, sore throats, and fevers.
In a typical year, Westchester experiences roughly 90,000 cases of influenza and 60,000 cases of the Norovirus during the flu season, which runs from October to as late as May, said Health Commissioner Dr. Sherlita Amler.
On Tuesday, the Federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said New York is experiencing epidemic flu activity.
Amler said flu symptoms include fever, body aches, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache, chills, and fatigue, while norovirus symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
To help keep the flu or norovirus from spreading, County Executive Rob Astorino and Amler are urging residents to take four simple steps to help combat the flu:
- Get a flu shot
- Wash hands frequently
- Stay home when sick
- Clean surfaces with bleach to stop spread of germs
“Get a flu shot if you haven’t already,” Astorino said. “It’s not too late. A flu vaccine is your best defense against the flu and flu shots are readily available at pharmacies, supermarkets, doctors’ offices and by appointment at our Health Department clinics in White Plains and Yonkers."
To avoid spreading germs, other tips include coughing into your sleeve - not your hands - and reminding children to wash their hands thoroughly after they sneeze. Also wash your hands before and after using the toilet, blowing your nose or preparing food, and teach your children the right way to wash hands. Wet your hands, work up a lather, scrub the back of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails, rinse and dry.
“Everyone six months and older should get a flu shot each year to protect not only yourself but the youngest and oldest residents around us,” said Amler. “Viruses spread more easily in the winter, and handwashing is one of the best ways to avoid viruses.”
Amler said the correct way to wash your hands is wash for the amount of time it takes to sing the A-B-Cs or to sing the Happy Birthday song twice.
Free flu shots will be given by appointment at the White Plains District Office, 134 Court St on Friday and Feb. 17; March 3 and 17 and April 7 and 21.
Shots will also be available at the Yonkers District Office, 20 South Broadway, 2nd floor, on Feb. 10 and 24, March 10 and 24 and April 14 and 28.
For an appointment, call 914-995-5800.