53% Decrease in Lab Confirmed Flu Cases and 41% Decrease in Hospitalizations Since Last Week
6,414 New Flu Cases in New York State, 1,026 Hospitalized for Flu in Past Week
8,853 New Yorkers Ages 2-18 Vaccinated at Pharmacies Since Governor's January 25 Executive Order
To Find a Flu Vaccine Near You, Click Here
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that for the second consecutive week since being categorized as geographically widespread, the number of laboratory confirmed influenza cases has decreased across New York. Last week, 6,414 laboratory confirmed influenza cases were reported to the New York State Department of Health. The number of weekly hospitalizations decreased for the fourth consecutive week since influenza was declared prevalent in December, with 1,026 New Yorkers hospitalized for lab confirmed influenza.
"The flu epidemic has tested New York communities for months, and we continue to do everything in our power to fight the spread of this virus," Governor Cuomo said. "The good news is that cases have decreased for the second straight week, but I continue to encourage New Yorkers to remain vigilant and take the appropriate steps to help stop the spread of the flu."
Influenza has been categorized as geographically widespread for the last 13 weeks in New York State. As of March 3, 107,723 laboratory confirmed cases of influenza have been reported and 19,373 people have been hospitalized with influenza in New York State this season. There have been 5 pediatric influenza-associated deaths this flu season. 17,870 children under the age of five have been diagnosed with lab confirmed influenza and 1,290 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.
Since being categorized as geographically widespread, Governor Cuomo has announced several aggressive 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.
Governor Cuomo also previously directed the New York State Department of Health to authorize enhanced reimbursement for counties statewide to further expanded flu vaccination efforts at the local level. 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.
New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "This year's flu season has been grueling for New Yorkers, but thanks to Governor Cuomo's actions and the efforts of the health care community, we continue to see a decline in the number of laboratory confirmed cases and the number of hospitalizations. While these numbers are encouraging, I continue to urge anyone who hasn't yet been vaccinated to get vaccinated to protect yourself and your loved ones."
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.