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      Oneida County sees spike in flu cases

      Oneida County is seeing a spike in the number of confirmed cases of the flu, which is prompting health officials to urge people to get the flu shot.

      "Within the past week we have had 94 confirmed cases of influenza reported in the county so it's safe to say the flu season has arrived," Patrice Bogan, Interim Director of the Health Department said in a media release. "To put this in perspective, during last year's mild flu season the first confirmed case of flu in Oneida County was not reported until late December."

      Almost all of the cases reported are Type A influenza and Oneida County Health officials say the public should take precautions and get the flu vaccine now. It takes about two weeks to develop immunity after getting the vaccine.

      The Oneida County Health Department is offering the flu vaccine through its Utica and Rome clinic sites. The "walk-in clinics" do not require an appointment and are held in Utica at 406 Elizabeth Street on Mondays and Thursdays from 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm. The Rome clinic at 300 W. Dominic Street holds a walk-in clinic on Tuesdays from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. The cost for those not covered by Medicaid, Medicare Part B or an accepted private insurance is $25.

      The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6-months and older.

      Health officials also urge you to remember to take the following steps to avoid getting sick:

      Frequent and thorough hand washing - use an alcohol based hand cleaner when soap and water is not available.

      Covering coughs and sneezes using the bend of your arm - never use your hands!

      Avoiding people with flu-like illness or symptoms and staying home from work or school if you exhibit flu-like illness.

      For more information call the Oneida County Health Department at 798-5748 or click here.