2007_2_health_si.jpgHere at Gothamist Health we stand against borough bashing in all its forms, but if you're going to get the flu this year, try not to get it in Staten Island. The Daily News reports that the death rate from the flu and pneumonia is more than twice as high in Staten Island than in the rest of the City. In 2005, the death rate in SI was about 67 deaths per 100,000 patients compared with 33 in the remaining boroughs. With a population of less than half a million, the SI provided about 10% of all of the flu and pneumonia related deaths in 2005.

Officials felt that perhaps the older Staten Island population or higher flu infection rates were to blame for the higher death rates. Instead, it seems that the higher smoking rates (30% compared with the City wide rate of 18%) in SI may be responsible, as smokers are more likely to have chronic heart and lung disease that lower resistance to various types of infections.

To deal with these figures, the health department is putting in an extra effort to provide free flu shots in on the Island. If you live in Staten Island or just want the flu shot, call 311 or visit www.nyc.gov/hhc to find out where you can get one. And in case you're wondering if you really need one, the DOH only recommends that the following people get `em:

+ All children aged 6 months until their fifth birthday.
+ All pregnant women, at any stage of pregnancy.
+ All people aged 50 years and older
+ All people aged 5 to 49 years with certain chronic medical conditions
+ All residents of nursing homes, chronic care facilities, and other long-term care facilities, who are at least 6 months of age
+ All out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of high-risk individuals, including contacts of children under 5 years of age
+ All health care workers

But hey, Staten Islanders, look at the bright side: you'll still live longer than most people in Brooklyn!