While the Erie County Health Department will not begin its formal surveillance of influenza until October 1, the health commissioner is urging the public to get ahead on the flu season by getting a shot.
Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein says both adults and children should be vaccinated. She says many who may be holding back due to perceived conditions may still be able to receive it safely.
"We know there are very, very few contraindiciations to flu vaccine," Burstein said. "People who have egg allergies can get immunized. People immunocompromised can get immunized. Women that are pregnant can and should get immunized. We're hoping our community really steps up this year and gets immunized to keep those numbers down."
Flu cases were higher last winter and Burstein acknowledged the higher number of pediatric flue deaths last season. Nationwide, 171 childred died as the result of influenza infection. It was the largest number of fatalities since 2009 and, according to Burstein, the second-largest number since they were recorded.
But she pointed out another factor in most juvenile deaths.
"At least 80 percent of those children who died of influenza were not immunized."
Children receiving the vaccine for the first time, Burstein noted, need two doses one month apart.