May is typically when flu season begins to die down, but not this year. The Erie County Department of Health has shared a health advisory from the New York State Department of Health regarding the amount of influenza activity this season across the state.

Flu season is typically from October to May

While flu levels can extend into late spring, the levels currently are elevated and widespread, leading to the warning. The state health department is extending the surveillance season until the activity declines.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Erie County Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein said,

NYSDOH data on reported flu cases typically show a steady decline throughout the spring season. This year, spring reports of influenza are higher than in previous years, and this increase in reports follows a decrease at the tail end of winter. Flu is still circulating here in Erie County. Despite being near the end of a typical flu season, a flu vaccine may still reduce the risk of severe illness. Flu symptoms can be similar to COVID-19 symptoms, and the preventive measures are also similar.

The flu disproportionately affects the young and the elderly

Photo by Vitolda Klein on Unsplash
Photo by Vitolda Klein on Unsplash

Since October 2021, the start of the current flu season, 100,656 laboratory-confirmed influenza cases and more than 5,600 hospitalizations have been reported. Children and youth ages zero to 17 comprise 59% of all laboratory-confirmed cases and elderly people ages 65 and older make up 42% of hospitalizations.

NYSDOH offers these tips and preventative measures to avoid catching the flu:

- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces or objects.
- All persons aged 6 months and older are eligible to be vaccinated. Influenza vaccine for the 2021-22 season can be given through June 30, 2022.

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