Photo Courtesy of the Office of the Governor
Cuomo called on all New Yorkers six months of age and over who have not yet received a flu shot to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
By Forum Staff
The State recently announced a dramatic rise in reported influenza cases across New York as Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on all New Yorkers six months of age and over who have not yet received a flu shot to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
According to the State Department of Health, cases of the flu rose by 54 percent and new cases were diagnosed in all NY counties last week. In addition, 1,606 New Yorkers have been hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed flu, the highest weekly number since DOH reporting began in 2004.
And for the last six weeks, the flu has been geographically widespread across the state. As of Jan. 13, 17,362 laboratory-confirmed cases of the flu have been reported and 5,267 people have been hospitalized with influenza in New York this season.
In addition to calling on all New Yorkers to get vaccinated, Cuomo directed DOH to take the following actions:
• Continue surveillance of hospitals statewide on bed capacity and supply of vaccines and antiviral medications;
• Coordinate with Greater New York Hospital Association, Healthcare Association of New York State, and the Community Health Care Association of New York State to support hospitals on capacity issues and encourage them to review their surge plans to expand capacity;
• Ensure that New York continues to have an adequate supply of flu vaccine and remaining in close communication with the Centers for Disease Control regarding vaccine availability. CDC is currently reporting adequate supplies of flu vaccine nationwide; and
• Promote the usage of HealthMap Vaccine Finder, developed by Google and supported by the CDC, a free online service that allows users to search for locations offering immunizations. To find a flu vaccine near you, visit: vaccinefinder.org.
“Influenza is a potentially deadly disease, and getting vaccinated is the best thing New Yorkers can do to protect themselves and those around them, followed by good hand hygiene,” said DOH Commissioner Howard Zucker, M.D. “To address the high number of cases we’re seeing across the state, Gov. Cuomo has directed the Department of Health to work with healthcare associations to take action against the flu and coordinate on issues of hospital capacity and surge planning. I urge all New Yorkers to get vaccinated immediately.”
According to DOH, while influenza A(H3N2) viruses have been the most common ones circulating nationally, at times this season, influenza B has been the most common strain circulating in some areas of the state. The influenza vaccine is typically more effective against influenza B, which reiterates how important it is for New Yorkers to get vaccinated.
Adults aged 65 years and older, people with certain chronic medical conditions, young children and pregnant women are among those at highest risk for serious influenza complications, which may require hospitalization and could result in death. Since the flu can spread through coughing or sneezing, it is especially important for family members and people who have regular contact with high-risk individuals to be vaccinated.
“The extraordinarily high rate of influenza this year underscores the critical importance of preventive care,” said Rose Duhan, president and CEO of the Community Health Care Association of New York State.