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Thursday 8 December 2022
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“Keep Your Holidays Healthy”

Flu shots and COVID boosters can keep holiday family gatherings safe

In the Community: News from the Office of Monroe County Executive Adam Bello

Photo by August de Richelieu: https://www.pexels.com/photo/family-having-dinner-and-celebrating-4262173/

“Keep Your Holidays Healthy” by getting a flu shot and if eligible, a COVID booster!

The “Keep Your Holidays Healthy” campaign’s purpose is to encourage City, county residents to get flu shots and COVID boosters in hopes of keeping families safe during the upcoming holiday seasons.

“COVID precautions during the past few years greatly reduced flu cases, but this year the flu is back and highly infectious,” said Monroe County Executive Adam Bello. “All of us are looking forward to spending the holidays with friends and family, including grandparents and young children. We can keep these intergenerational gatherings safe and everyone healthy by getting a flu shot and if appropriate, a COVID booster.”

National data from the Centers for Disease Control shows that flu hospitalizations for this time of year are at the highest level since 2010. With ongoing hospital capacity issues, local healthcare systems are concerned about a spike in flu cases at upcoming holiday gatherings.

Rochester Mayor Malik D. Evans says the precautions outlined in the ‘Keep your Holidays Healthy’ campaign are as important today as they were during the height of the pandemic and the economic shutdown. said Rochester Mayor Malik D. Evans. 

“The holiday season brings a convergence of factors that can drive our infection rates back to dangerous levels, so this is no time to get complacent.” he said. “As we look forward to what is supposed to be a season of joyful gathering, I urge all of our residents to make sure they are fully vaccinated and exercise all of the necessary measures to keep themselves and others healthy and safe.”

Dr. Michael Mendoza, Monroe County commissioner of Public Health said his team has been providing flu and COVID vaccinations at shelters, soup kitchens, churches and other locations making sure people living in historically underserved communities are protected against these viruses. Mendoza said they will  continue to reach out to people in every corner of our community to provide information and resources. “We want Monroe County residents to know how important this very safe and simple step is,” Mendoza said. “Please get your shot today!”

Dr. Mendoza said Monroe County hospitals face daily census numbers that exceed 100% of typical inpatient capacity.

UR Medicine’s Strong Memorial and Highland hospital’s chief medical office, Dr. Michael Apostolakos said the hospital system is working on the issue. “We need everyone to protect themselves now, because our hospitals currently have extremely limited capacity to care for a surge in flu or COVID patients that could be avoided if the community is willing to be vaccinated,” he said.

“With people starting to gather indoors for the holidays, vaccination is the best way to protect everyone’s health. Vaccination also avoids strain on our health care systems and the medical professionals who are working so hard to keep our community safe,” said Dr. Robert Mayo, chief medical officer, Rochester Regional Health. 

The Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce will distribute campaign materials to its member companies and is encouraging its members to hold flu shot clinics in the workplace. “Protecting ourselves, our businesses, and our community against illness is more important than ever as we recover from COVID-19 and work to grow our regional economy,” said Bob Duffy, president and CEO, Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce. 

Flu shots are available in most pharmacies and at several community health centers such as Jordan Health Services, Trillium Health, Mosaic Health and Oak Orchard Health, community health centers that historically provide direct services to some of our most vulnerable populations.

Trillium Health Pharmacy, located at 259 Monroe Avenue is offering same day/walk-in vaccinations. Andrea DeMeo, president and CEO of Trillium Health urges everyone to get vaccinated. “We are on a bus line and we have plenty of free parking. Visit our website at trilliumhealth.org to book an appointment or call (585) 545-7200.”

As part of the effort, the Monroe County Department of Public Health plans to use its mobile unit to reach  the more vulnerable communities. Also, Foodlink has partnered with Monroe County, to help distribute flu and COVID vaccine information, resources and free COVID tests.

“The best care is preventive care,” says Dr. Linda Clark, chief medical officer of Jordan Health.  “This year it is critical everyone receives their flu vaccinations. Many of us were masked throughout the pandemic, so flu was not as problematic. However, now that we are returning to our normal routines, we must maintain our health for ourselves and to protect our loved ones.” 

Dr. Clark said Jordan Health remains committed to ensuring everyone has access to quality care and the appropriate preventive care, such as physicals and immunizations.
Visit www.monroecounty.gov/healthyholidays for more campaign information and a “Vaccine Finder” search engine for local pharmacies and healthcare centers dispensing flu shots and COVID boosters.