Dangerous Flu Year Is Expected, So Get Shots
Events such as the free flu and pneumonia shots staged by Assemblymember Michael Gianaris earlier this month took on more importance last week when the city’s top health official warned, "It looks like it’s going to be a bad year" as far as the flu is concerned.
City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Thomas Frieden warned last week, "We’re seeing a significant increase in respiratory illnesses. Flu can be a nuisance; it can also kill you." That’s especially true for seniors over 65, Frieden added.
"Flu season peaks in December, January and February, so it’s not too late," he pointed out. In other words, there’s still time to get the flu and pneumonia shots to protect against a possible calamity. Seniors especially should heed the warning because they are particularly vulnerable, so we urge them to get inoculated against these dangerous, sometimes fatal illnesses.
Earlier this month, Gianaris (D–Astoria), in cooperation with several other heath organizations, arranged for seniors to come to the Varsity Boys and Girls Club on 30th Road at 21st Street in Long Island City to get free flu and pneumonia shots. It attracted about 100 people, seniors and others.
Gianaris noted that within the past several years, the flu has been more robust and prevention is more important than ever. "The best medicine is prevention," he emphasized. "That is why I offer these shots every year."
The lawmaker also thanked the New York Presbyterian Center, the Ambulatory Care Network and the Visiting Nurse Services of New York for cosponsoring the important event. "As the winter approaches, it is critical that our community receive the necessary vaccines to prevent a rough influenza season," he said. "This event is a great example of government and community successfully working together to protect the health of Astoria’s senior population."
CELL PHONES OFF BASE TO TELEMARKETERS: On Monday, consumers got the go ahead to switch their home phone numbers to a wireless phone. Some telemarketer watchdogs warned that the change could bring a flood of unwanted calls from telemarketers, but the officials said, these calls to cell phones are illegal under the federal and state ban on calls to numbers listed in the "Don’t Call" registry.
The reason for the new warning is that telemarketers claim they are not able to tell whether a number is a cell phone or a landline. But an FCC spokesperson said databases used by telemarketers identify cell numbers, so the telemarketers will know what kind of phone they are reaching.
The FCC may fine violators who call cell phones if they receive a consumer complaint, or people can sue the telemarketer for $500. The do-not-call list prohibits most telemarketing calls, except those from political organizations, charities and companies that have a previous relationship with a customer.
MEETINGS: The last meeting of the year for AARP Chapter 2889 is set for next Wednesday, December 3, at 12:30 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown, 54-05 Seabury St., Elmhurst. A talk on nutrition will be given by a speaker from North Shore Hospital.
North Flushing AARP Chapter 4158 will also hold its last meeting of 2003 on December 9, starting at noon at Church-on-the-Hill, 167-07 35th Ave., Flushing. The program will feature a holiday concert by Ron Paris.