A health department in the Hudson Valley is warning people to be cautious as cases of respiratory viruses rise.
The warning comes after a rise in cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in Putnam County, which has been accompanied by a similar rise in COVID-19 and flu cases, according to an announcement by the Putnam County Health Department from Monday, Nov. 21.
“Residents hearing stories on the news about high levels of respiratory illness around the country should be aware that this is also true in Putnam County. COVID cases remain steady at about 150 per week, and in the last reporting week we saw cases of flu more than double from 39 up to 98 cases,” said the health department’s epidemiologist, Alison Kaufman.
RSV cases are also currently at a higher level, with the number of cases exceeding the number typically seen later in the season, according to the health department.
Symptoms of RSV are similar to the common cold for healthy adults and include a runny nose and cough, officials said. For young children and infants though, especially those born preterm or with lung conditions, the virus can lead to serious illnesses such as pneumonia.
The flu season this year also started earlier than usual, the health department said.
Despite this, people can protect themselves by getting vaccinated, officials said.
The Putnam County Health Department will hold a flu shot clinic on Thursday, Dec. 1, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Brewster at 1 Geneva Rd, officials said. Those interested in receiving a shot should call ahead at 845-808-1390, x43230 to schedule an appointment.
Additionally, the village of Brewster will hold vaccine clinics on the following days:
- Tuesday, Nov. 22 from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Brewster Methodist Church, at 83 Main St.;
- Tuesday, Dec. 13 at 121 Main St. at an unspecified time.
“With holiday gatherings nearly here, it’s important to get flu and COVID shots soon. The best immunity is achieved about two weeks after each injection,” Putnam County health officials said, also saying that social distancing can help reduce the risk of getting sick as well.
Officials also noted that RSV vaccines are not yet available, but are in development.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated that there have been at least 4.4 million illnesses, 38,000 hospitalizations, and 2,100 deaths from the flu this season, and has categorized New York as “high” in flu activity.
The CDC recommends that people 6 months and older get an annual flu vaccine.
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