Onondaga County health officials are urging residents to get a flu shot after the flu season has gotten off to a strong start.
"What we are seeing is increased hospitalizations and increased number of cases. We are comparing last year’s versus this year’s. So there is a quite upsurge," said county health commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta.
Two elderly people have died in recent days from the flu, according to the Onondaga County Health Department. And the county’s nearly 90 confirmed cases of the virus is twice as many as compared to this point in the season last year.
The outbreak has Gupta encouraging all people to get vaccinated. And she says it’s not too late into flu season.
"Even though it gives a partial protection, it still gives you some protection," she said.
Central New Yorkers roll up their sleeves for a flu shot at a lower rate than other parts of the state, according to BlueCross BlueShield. Gupta says the shot is just the first defense against contracting influenza. She also recommends preventing the spread of the virus.
"So all those hand washing tips and all those things, they really do work," she said. "That’s in our control, we can do that."
Health officials say this time of year most illnesses that involve a fever and ailments like a cough and aches are likely the flu. The department’s statistics include only confirmed cases for patients that seek medical care.
The flu is most damaging to the very young, elderly or people with underlying medical conditions.