Courtesy of the State Department of Health
Residents are still encouraged to get their flu shots. To find a vaccine near you, visit vaccinefinder.org.
By Forum Staff
For the first time since being categorized as geographically widespread, the number of laboratory confirmed New York flu cases has decreased, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Thursday.
Last week, 13,703 laboratory confirmed influenza cases were reported to the State Department of Health and the number of weekly hospitalizations decreased for the third consecutive week since influenza was declared prevalent in the Empire State in December, with 1,702 New Yorkers hospitalized for lab-confirmed influenza.
As Cuomo noted, for the last 12 weeks, the flu has been geographically widespread across New York. As of Feb. 24, 101,312 laboratory confirmed cases of influenza have been reported and 18,282 people have been hospitalized with influenza in the state this flu season. There have been five pediatric influenza-associated deaths this season; 16,704 children under the age of 5 have been diagnosed with lab-confirmed influenza and 1,224 have been hospitalized.
During last year’s flu season, there were 12,912 flu-related hospitalizations and eight pediatric deaths in New York. Over the previous four years, there were a total of 25 pediatric flu deaths in the state and an average of 10,571 flu-related hospitalizations a year.
“The breadth of this year’s flu epidemic has reminded all of us that we must remain vigilant in protecting ourselves and our loved ones,” Cuomo said. “Our comprehensive efforts to get New Yorkers vaccinated have greatly decreased the number of cases, but we still encourage New Yorkers to get vaccinated and take necessary steps to continue to stop the spread of this virus.”
Those efforts have included a 30-day budget amendment to increase convenience and vaccine accessibility by amending State education law allowing pharmacists to administer flu vaccines to children ages 2 to 18. As a result, Cuomo said, the legislation encouraged pharmacies to enroll in the State Vaccines for Children Program, which provides vaccines to children and individuals regardless of their ability to pay.
Additionally, Cuomo directed DOH to authorize enhanced reimbursement for counties statewide to further expanded flu vaccination efforts at the local level.