The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older.
“It doesn’t matter what the flu season will be, we should be protecting ourselves,” said Carrie Post, director of employee health at A.O. Fox Memorial Hospital in Oneonta.
Post has been reminding employees monthly since the summer that flu shots will be required by Nov. 1. Hospital volunteers and agency personnel will be required to get flu shots or wear a mask, she said, and she projected that 1,250 immunizations will be given.
When the flu spiked last season, the hospital asked employees to be immunized or wear a mask, Post said, and quite a few staffers stepped forward. The regulation has been fairly well accepted, she said.
Area health-care providers reported that demand is down for flu shots administered at designated clinics. Instead, residents are going to pharmacies or having shots during visits to doctors, they said.
Fox administered 118 flu shots at a clinic last week, Post said, but the hospital won’t be offering other clinics this season. Previously, the hospital offered two or three clinics seeing up to 500 patients each session, she said.
Delaware County Public Health isn’t offering any flu-shot clinics because of the wide-availability of the immunizations through other providers, Vera Buel, supervising public health nurse, said. Besides following recommendations for immunization, she said, best practices for prevention include washing hands and avoiding large crowds.
Benjamin said guidelines for thorough hand-washing are to create a lather with water and soap, rub between fingers and nails for as long as it would take to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. Clean cloth or paper towels should be used for drying, she said.
Hands should be washed often, including after using the toilet and before meals, Benjamin said, and she recommended using hand-sanitizer in other situations.