Photo Courtesy of the Office of the Governor
“Flu season is in full swing, and as the number of cases and hospitalizations continue to rise, we must do everything we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones,” Gov. Cuomo said.
By Forum Staff
From Dec. 20 through Dec. 26, cases of influenza in New York increased by 72 percent; new cases of the flu were reported in 58 out of 62 Empire State counties; and the number of patients hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed flu was 363, a 41-percent increase from the prior week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Thursday as he continued to urge all New Yorkers 6 months of age and older who have not yet received a flu shot to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
This flu season, New York has had 5,400 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza in 58 counties, including all five boroughs of NYC. During this period, there have been 1,305 flu-related hospitalizations reported, and one influenza-associated pediatric death. Over the last three seasons, there have been 19 influenza-associated pediatric deaths in New York and an average of 15,101 flu-related hospitalizations, the State noted.
Last month, State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, M.D., declared that the flu is prevalent in New York State. This announcement put into effect a regulation requiring that healthcare workers who are not vaccinated against influenza wear surgical or procedure masks in areas where patients are typically present.
“With an increase in flu cases in every corner of this state, I want to remind New Yorkers who have not been vaccinated against the flu that it is not too late to take this critical action,” Cuomo said. “Flu season is in full swing, and as the number of cases and hospitalizations continue to rise, we must do everything we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones.”
In addition to getting a flu shot and staying home when sick, Zucker said it’s important to practice good hand-hygiene: wash your hands often with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds to protect yourself from germs and avoid spreading them to others; carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to use when soap and water are not available; choose a product with at least 60-percent alcohol; do not cough or sneeze into your hands—cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. People with the flu are infectious for up to 7 days after symptoms begin.
A year ago, Cuomo signed an emergency executive order allowing pharmacists to administer flu vaccines to children ages 2 to 18 during the 2018 flu season. Following the signing of the order, pharmacists vaccinated approximately 9,000 individuals ages 2 to 18 against the flu. Subsequently, Cuomo signed legislation codifying theEO into law, meaning that now any person age 2 or older can be administered the flu vaccine by a pharmacist.