BINGHAMTON, N.Y. (WIVT/WBGH) – The Broome County Health Department is encouraging all residents to take preventative measures against the flu this season.

Members of the community are being urged to get their annual flu shot to reduce the risk of severe flu-related symptoms. According to the health department, the best time to get a flu shot is by the end of October as it takes around two weeks for your immune system to build up its defenses after receiving the vaccine. However, it’s never too late to receive a flu shot.

Health experts say the flu shot has been proven to be safe and effective. It is recommended for everyone over the age of six months and is strongly recommended for children, people over the age of 65, and those who are pregnant as well as individuals with asthma, heart disease, or a weakened immune system.

The flu, or influenza, is a respiratory illness caused by a virus that spreads through water droplets that come from someone’s mouth or nose when they cough or sneeze. The most common flu symptoms include fever, cough, and a sore throat as well as chills, body aches, headaches, and fatigue. The flu vaccine reduces the risk of these symptoms and severe outcomes by 60%.

Getting the flu shot not only protects you but the people around you. Since it is spread via droplets in the air, the flu transfers very easily when people are gathered together indoors. Since most people stay inside during the winter, this makes being vaccinated an important priority.

According to the health department, in 2022, Broome County had its highest number of reported cases of the flu in the last four years, tripling the number of reported cases in 2021. The department says a majority of these cases were reported in the weeks just before Christmas.

You can schedule a vaccine today by calling your doctor, local pharmacy, or other healthcare providers.