2007_10_health_flu.jpgA welcome break from the "what is this growing on my [insert body part here]" type of questions we're used to, Gothamist Health is happy to answer what all of our friends have been asking us for weeks: "Do I need a flu shot?"

For most people, the answer is no, you don't need one. But the Department of Health released a statement yesterday suggesting that ALL New Yorkers go right ahead and take the plunge. In an attempt to save what have been limited supplies in the past, the DOH has previously recommended that only those at serious risk of the potential devastating effects of the flu should seek out the needle. Specifically, this has included:

  • Adults age 50 and over – especially those over 65
  • People with chronic medical conditions
  • Health care workers
  • Children from age 6 months up to 5 year
  • Pregnant women

However, the City is well stocked with the vaccine this year and is encouraging everyone to get treated in an attempt to boost herd immunity. Those of us that get the shot will help protect those that don't, the theory being that the chain of disease transmission is disrupted when you add immune people to the lineup. Which isn't a bad idea when you note that influenza and pneumonia are the third leading cause of death in NYC after heart disease and cancer, killing close to 3,000 people a year. And since only about 60% of New Yorkers over the age of 65 got a flu shot in 2005-6, the more of us that get immunized can help in defending our more susceptible neighbors. Of the more than 25 million Americans who will get the flu this year, more than 200,000 will be hospitalized and 36,000 will die from complications.

To find where you can get a free flu shot, call 311 or check out this online clinic locator.