Flu season begins as early as October and may last until May, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Find a Buffalo Area Flu Shot Clinic:
Click on the provider you trust to see a schedule of their offerings.This list does not include your area pharmacy or doctor that may also offer vaccines.
From Catholic Health | Kaleida- The VNA at area churches, fire halls, supermarkets etc.
UB (free for students) | Buffalo State College (free for students) | Independent Nursing Care | Wegman's Supermarkets | Tops Friendly Markets | Target Stores | Father Belle Center- Buffalo
Manufacturers are expected to make about 135 million doses of flu vaccine this year, and there are four different forms to choose from:
-The traditional flu shot is for all ages and people with high-risk health conditions.
-FluMist, the squirt-up-the-nose version, is for healthy people ages 2 to 49 who aren't pregnant.
-A high-dose shot is available for people 65 and older.
-And the intradermal shot - a skin-deep prick instead of the usual inch-long needle - is available for 18- to 64-year-olds.
The vaccine is covered by insurance, and Medicare and some plans don't require a copay; drugstore vaccination programs tend to charge about $30.
Exclusive WBEN Audio The VNA Giving 2012 Flu Shots
Lisa Greisler , Chief Clinical Officer
VNA- The Visiting Nurses Assoc.
Also.. Dr. Gale Burstein, MD
Erie County Health Commissioner
12 Myths about Flu Vaccines
MYTH # 1: FLU SHOTS CAN CAUSE THE FLU:
Flu vaccines contain only inactivated flu viruses. They're unable to cause infection.
In fact, studies comparing flu shot recipients to people who get salt-water (placebo) shots show that the only differences in the two groups are that the flu shot recipients experience redness at the injection site and arm soreness.
They weren't more likely to experience body aches, fever, cough, runny nose, or sore throat.
Myth #2: LATE FLU SHOTS DON'T HELP
Some people believe it makes no sense to get a flu shot after November. In fact, while experts say it's best to get flu shots as soon as they become available, getting a flu shot can be helpful as long as flu viruses are circulating.
Flu season varies from year to year. Though seasonal influenza usually peaks in January or February, some people get the flu as late as May.
Myth # 3: FLU SHOTS PROTECT FOR YEARS
Just because you got a flu shot last year doesn't mean you're protected this year.
Flu viruses change from year to year, and that means the flu vaccine must be updated yearly as well
In fact, this year's shot is different, incorporating new defense against new strains already seen in the Southern Hemisphere this time around.
Myth #4: FLU SHOTS MAKE OTHER PRECAUTIONS UNNECESSARY
Even if you get a flu shot, government scientists say it's a good idea to take - and encourage children to take - everyday steps to prevent the spread of germs and viruses, including those that cause influenza. Simple precautions include: Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Stay away from people who are sick. Wash your hands often with soap and water - or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Myth # 5: IT PAYS TO WAIT
Some people think they need a flu shot only if the people around them come down with the flu. But if you wait till others get sick, it will probably be too late to protect yourself. It takes about two weeks for the flu vaccine to provide full protection.
Myth # 6: BABIES SHOULD GET FLU SHOTS
Children under six months of age are at risk for influenza. Unfortunately, they're too young to get a flu shot. The best way to protect them against is to make sure other members of the household get vaccinated, along with their caregivers.
Myth #7: FLU SHOTS AREN'T VERY EFFECTIVE
The flu vaccine doesn't work all the time, but studies show that it can reduce the chances of getting the flu by up to 90 percent. The vaccine is a bit less effective in old people and young children, but getting vaccinated can help them avoid serious complications of flu even if it doesn't prevent the illness itself.
Myth #8: EVERYONE SHOULD GET A FLU SHOT
Flu shots are now recommended for everyone over the age of six months - except for people who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs or other substances in the vaccine or who have sustained a serious reaction to previous flu shots.
Myth #9: FLU SHOTS CAUSE AUTISM
Some flu vaccines contain thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative that has been blamed for health problems, including autism. But studies have shown that the low doses of thimerosal are harmless, causing nothing more than redness and swelling at the injection site. Numerous studies have shown no link between thimerosal exposure and autism.
Myth # 10: ONE FLU SHOT IS NOT ENOUGH
This year only one flu vaccine is needed, and most people need to get vaccinated only once. Children between the ages of six months and eight years who have never gotten a seasonal flu vaccine should get two doses of vaccine spaced at least four weeks apart.
Myth#11: ANTI VIRALS MAKE FLU SHOTS UNNECESSARY
Yes, antiviral pills, liquids, and inhaled powders are available to treat flu symptoms. But these prescription-only products - Tamiflu and Relenza - are considered a second line of defense against the flu. And they tend to work only if they are taken within the first day or two of coming down with influenza.
Myth #12: NEEDLES ARE THE ONLY OPTION
hate injections? A nasal spray flu vaccine is available.
It's okay for use by healthy people between the ages of two and 49 years - as long as they are not pregnant.
Health Officials Stress Need: Almost Everyone Can Get A Flu Shot....
But.... Not Everyone On Board With Need For Them.
Amherst (WBEN) -- Flu season is upon us, and for some, that means a flu shot. For others, it's not a priority.
The flu shots are available at local pharmacies or perhaps even in your workplace.
Yvette Gibert, who's a retired nurse (RN), says she got her flu shot at a local pharmacy. Gibert says she gets one annually and recommends the shots for everyone.
But not everyone seems concerned about the shot. A new study suggests young people, like college students, tend the ignore the potential benefits of the vaccine.
"People tend to believe that they just wouldn't get it [the flu]; they don't really need the vaccine, but the fact is that nationwide, a lot of the flu cases actually occurred among younger populations, especially people under 30," says Yang.
She thinks public health officials on any college campus should emphasize the risk -- especially with young people living together.Yang, an assistant professor of communication, had her study published in the October issue of Risk Analysis: An International Journal (a publication of the nonprofit Society for Risk Analysis.
The study considers why vaccination non-compliance is so common among college students and what can be done about it.
"I urge everyone to join me and get a flu vaccine this year," Assistant Secretary for Health and Human Services Dr. Howard K. Koh said.
Koh (L) was the first to receive his flu vaccine during a Thursday National Foundation for Infectious Diseases' news conference in Washington, D.C. where he was joined by officials from the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Pharmacists Association, AARP, National Medical Association and CDC.
"When it comes to flu, we can't look to the past to predict the future," Koh said. "Stay healthy - get vaccinated!"
Koh called on everyone ages 6 months and older to follow the CDC's universal recommendation of getting vaccinated each year. The CDC cautions that even healthy people can not only get very sick from the flu, and spread it to others who may fare even worse. The agency reports between 1976 and 2007, up to 49,000 people have died from influenza. Ninety percent of deaths during a typical seasonal flu season occur in people older than 65.
The CDC also unveiled new statistics on how many people actually got last year's vaccine in the Sept 27 issue of its journal, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The report showed vaccination rates remained steady with that of previous years, with about 128 million people getting the shot during last year's flu season - about 42 percent of the U.S. population.
That's significantly lower than the CDC's goal of vaccinating 80 percent of the U.S. population. The new research also showed vaccination rates varied widely between certain age groups for last year's 2011-2012 flu season.
The greatest year-to-year increase in vaccination rates was a 6 percent increase seen in infants ages six to 23 months old -approximately 75 percent of them were vaccinated for the 2011-2012 season. Overall, rates for kids ages 6 months to 17 years old held steady at 52 percent. The older children became, the fewer got vaccines, with only a 34 percent rate for children ages 13 to 17.
Adults with the best vaccine coverage were 65 and older, with approximately 65 percent getting vaccines last year, but that reflects a 10 percent drop in coverage rates for the age group since the 2008-2009 flu season.
About 47 percent of pregnant women got the flu vaccine last year which was consistent with the previous year's rates, the report found.
"Influenza is five times more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than women who are not pregnant. Research shows it can decrease the baby's risk of getting the flu for up to six months after birth."
-- Dr. Laura Riley, director of obstetrics and gynecology infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston
The CDC's report also looked a workers in the health care industry to see if they too were heeding the government's advice. The report found approximately 67 percent of health care workers got vaccinated in 2011-2012 - a 3 percent rise from the prior flu season - and physicians were most likely (86 percent of them) to get a flu vaccine.
Officials say if health care workers get vaccinated, it will better encourage the general population to get the shot.
This year's flu vaccine consists of one H1N1 strain from last year's vaccine, plus two new strains. It is available as the standard shot that is injected into muscle, nasal spray, a high-dose injection for people 65 and older and a new "Fluzone Intradermal" vaccine with a much smaller needle that is injected into the skin that is recommended for adults 18 to 64 years of age.
Besides vaccination, the government urges everyday actions like hand washing, covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and taking antiviral flu medications if you're at high risk for flu or develop influenza - in both cases, people should check with their doctor.
"It is every individual's responsibility to put prevention to good use and make vaccination part of their routine healthcare," said infectious disease expert Dr. William Schaffner, former president of NFID and chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine:
From the University At Buffalo, Here's their latest on the Spread of Flu
and their study referenced above
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Influenza spreads like wildfire on college campuses because of high-density living conditions. Its symptoms -- weakness, muscle pain, vomiting and diarrhea are unpleasant but usually not serious, although many people get very sick and thousands die every year in the U.S. from complications of the flu.
A study by University at Buffalo researcher Janet Yang, PhD, assistant professor of communication, published in the October issue of Risk Analysis: An International Journal (a publication of the nonprofit Society for Risk Analysis), considers why vaccination non-compliance is so common among college students and what can be done about it.
Yang's Study "Too Scared or Too Capable? Why Do College Students Stay Away from the H1N1 Vaccine?" is based on surveys of college students in 2010, following the 2009 pandemic of Swine Flu (caused by the H1N1 virus), which killed an estimated 294,000 people worldwide.
Yang says that during that pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control undertook a strong outreach program in an attempt to get college students and other initial target groups vaccinated. The subsequent vaccination rate for groups like pregnant women and health care workers was 34.2 percent, but the compliance rate among college students was only 10 percent. This concerned public health officials because as of November 2009, 80 percent of H1N1 flu cases were in people under the age of 30.
In 2010, Yang conducted a survey of 317 college students to ascertain their attitudes toward the flu and its vaccine and to find out why they did or did not get vaccinated.
She found that a complex set of factors affected student avoidance of the vaccine, but that public health officials could increase compliance rates if they better understood the reasons for non-compliance and then tailored their outreach communications to better accommodate this audience.
“Many students surveyed were confident that they had all the information they needed to make an informed decision about being vaccinated,” Yang says.
“In fact, however, they often did not have even minimal baseline knowledge of the flu itself or of the vaccine that prevented it.”
One reason for this, she says, is that although the students considered them credible, many of the sources they relied on for information about both flu and vaccine were questionable.
“For instance,” Yang says, “during the pandemic, dubious information was circulated on YouTube about the risks associated with getting the vaccine -- but not about the risks of getting the flu itself.” This contaminated the health information environment surrounding the flu and complicated efforts to prevent the disease from spreading, according to Yang.
“It was also the case,” she says, “that many students did not see the relevance of the vaccine to their health or that of others, and so did not consider vaccination an act of social responsibility. This also promoted non-compliance.
“Overall,” she says, “the study demonstrated how the perception of risk associated with vaccination could influence individuals’ information-seeking behavior and intention to be vaccinated.”
She says as well, however, that specific changes in health communication could promote vaccination and other healthy behaviors in this population.
“First,” she says, “it is critical that public health communicators recognize students’ existing perceptions and attitudes toward the vaccine, and understand their emotional reaction to potential risks such as post-vaccine fever or muscle pain.
“We want to avoid students’ unwarranted confidence in their knowledge of the flu and their ability to adopt preventive behavior,” she says.
“So accurate, credible, documented information about the virus and its consequences needs to be provided to students,” Yang says, “along with facts about how infection spreads, how it can be prevented and the safety of the vaccine. All of this should be presented in a clear format that is easy to find and easy to read.”
She points out that students surveyed who determined their flu vaccine information source to be credible sought more information, which in turn increased their intention to get the vaccine.
“It also is critical to present vaccination as an action that bears personal relevancy and immediacy to the students,” Yang says, “and to this end, the use of emotional appeals and normative social influences could be quite effective in constructing messages.”
Because she used a convenience sample, Yang says her results should not be over generalized or applied to all college students. With some caveats in mind, however, she says her findings confirm a strong role for risk communication in promoting a preventive health behavior among a unique population group.
Yang’s research and publications center on the communication of risk information related to science, health and environmental issues, and, in particular, how cognitive and affective evaluations of risk influence individuals’ decision making.
Much of her work focuses on social cognitive factors that influence information seeking and processing, health decision making and public perception of environmental and health risks. Her recent research projects have involved improving communication about climate change, renewable energy and cancer clinical trials.
Yang was the 2011-12 head of ComSHER: Communicating Science, Health, Environment and Risk, a division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.