42% Decrease in Lab Confirmed Flu Cases and 35% Decrease in Hospitalizations Since Last Week
3,692 New Flu Cases in New York State, 694 Hospitalized for Flu in Past Week
8,879 New Yorkers Ages 2-18 Vaccinated at Pharmacies Since Governor's January 25 Executive Order
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that for the third consecutive week since being categorized as geographically widespread, the number of laboratory-confirmed influenza cases has decreased across New York. Last week, 3,692 laboratory-confirmed influenza cases were reported to the New York State Department of Health. The number of weekly hospitalizations decreased for the fifth consecutive week since influenza was declared prevalent in December, with 694 New Yorkers hospitalized for lab-confirmed influenza.
"I am encouraged to see yet another decrease in the number of flu cases across the state, but we must remain vigilant against the spread of the virus," Governor Cuomo said. "If you haven't already been vaccinated, I urge you to do so and to please stay home if you are sick to avoid spreading the illness."
Influenza has been categorized as geographically widespread for the last 14 weeks in New York State. As of March 10, 111,410 laboratory confirmed cases of influenza have been reported and 20,114 people have been hospitalized with influenza in New York State this season. There have been 5 pediatric influenza-associated deaths this flu season. 18,432 children under the age of five have been diagnosed with lab confirmed influenza and 1,341 have been hospitalized. During last year's flu season, there were 12,912 flu-related hospitalizations and 8 pediatric deaths in New York. Over the previous four years, there were a total of 25 pediatric flu deaths in New York State and an average of 10,571 flu-related hospitalizations a year.
To build on the expanded flu vaccination efforts at the local level, Governor Cuomo previously directed the New York State Department of Health to authorize enhanced reimbursement for counties statewide. The Department of Health's website links to local health departments, providing New Yorkers with a one-stop-shop approach to finding local vaccination clinics. The Department of Health is also promoting the use of HealthMap Vaccine Finder which identifies locations where vaccines can be found at other locations in New York State at www.vaccinefinder.org.
Since being categorized as geographically widespread, Governor Cuomo has also announced several multifaceted actions to combat the spread of the flu, including an Executive Order that suspended the section of state education law that limits the authority of pharmacists to administer immunizing agents to anyone under age 18 to allow vaccines to be administered to anyone age 2 and up. Governor Cuomo also recently announced a 30-day budget amendment to codify the Executive Order 176 and 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, this legislation will encourage pharmacies to enroll in the New York State Vaccines for Children Program, which provides vaccines to children and individuals regardless of their ability to pay. The Governor also called on individual physicians to enroll in the Vaccines for Children program, if not already enrolled.
New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "As we continue to see a widespread number of flu cases across the state, I encourage anyone who is sick to take appropriate precautions and stay home from work or school. Thanks to the Governor's actions this flu season, more New Yorkers have had access to a flu vaccine, which remains the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu. If you haven't already done so, it's not too late to get vaccinated."
In addition to getting a flu shot and staying home when sick, it's essential to practice good hand-hygiene:
- Unlike some viruses, influenza is easily killed by soap and hot water.
- 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. Instead, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. People with the flu are infectious for up to 7 days after symptoms begin.
For more information about the flu, visit: www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/influenza/seasonal