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Central New York lags behind when it comes to getting flu shots

Daniel Paquet

It's that time of year when experts recommend getting a flu shot, but many central New Yorkers aren't getting that message.

A larger percentage of central New Yorkers get vaccine preventable diseases like the flu than in any other part of upstate New York, according to state Health Department numbers compiled by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. Regional President Dr. Arthur Vercillo says that mirrors the number of people getting flu shots.

"The use of the flu vaccine is a little less in central New York than it is in a lot of upstate New York," Vercillo said. "That’s a little less than New York state in general, which is a little less than the nation.”

Vercillo says it’s no surprise that central New York also has the highest number of reported vaccine preventable cases compared to the rest of upstate New York.

“It makes sense that the fewer people that have the vaccine, the higher incidence it is in any given area," he explained. "So we can all do something about that. By getting a flu vaccine you not only protect your self, but in a way you are protecting those around you because you’re not passing something to them.”

He also says there’s one particular age group that ignores the needle.

“Take those people in that 18-24 age group," Vercillo said. "They have the lowest incidence of getting the flu vaccine. Maybe it’s not a priority, maybe they think they can tough it out. Maybe they just don’t see the opportunity. Maybe they’re busy, I don’t know. But they have the lowest incidence of getting the flu vaccine, and a lot of them come down with the flu.”

Vercillo encourages more people, especially young adults to make sure they get the shot this year. He says it’s safe, affordable, widely available and, ultimately, empowering.

"This is one of those things that we take responsibility for ourselves in large part," Vercillo explained. "There is so much in disease and medicine that we have very little control over, but this is one where we do.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.