November 3, 2022
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Launches Public Awareness Campaign to Protect New Yorkers Against Respiratory Illnesses

Governor Hochul Launches Public Awareness Campaign to Protect New Yorkers Against Respiratory Illnesses

State Health Commissioner's Video Messages Warn of the Triple Threat Posed by Respiratory Illnesses, Including RSV, Flu and COVID-19

New Video Clips Urge New Yorkers to Get Flu and COVID-19 Vaccinations and Boosters; Take Steps to Protect Themselves and Their Families

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Governor Kathy Hochul today launched a new public awareness campaign about respiratory virus infections spreading this fall and the steps New Yorkers can take to protect themselves, their families and their communities. Produced by the New York State Department of Health, the three video clips will run online on multiple social media platforms and feature New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett speaking directly to New Yorkers about three viruses — Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), flu and COVID-19 — now circulating in the state with similar symptoms and with the potential to cause serious illness.

"Our fight against respiratory illnesses begins with protecting New Yorkers from infection, and we are taking action to raise awareness of these viruses and keep vulnerable New Yorkers safe and healthy," Governor Hochul said. "This awareness campaign is part of our multi-pronged, aggressive efforts to stop the spread of infectious disease and do everything we can to protect the health of New Yorkers."

New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said, "These videos deliver an important message to all New Yorkers about the respiratory viruses spreading this season and the steps people can take to protect themselves and their loved ones. This new public awareness campaign reinforces the Department of Health's other public awareness efforts by providing New Yorkers some practical ways to avoid contracting and spreading RSV, flu, and COVID-19 viruses this fall and winter, including reminding parents to get both flu and COVID-19 shots for themselves and their children 6 months and older."

The Department of Health produced three videos to be shared on social media: A short clip and a longer version geared toward parents; and a version aimed specifically at health care providers.

While RSV is a common virus every fall and winter, it can be dangerous for very young children, especially those born preterm or less than one year of age, as well as for older adults and people with certain medical conditions like chronic lung or heart disease or weakened immune systems. The best defense against respiratory viruses is to receive the seasonal flu and COVID vaccines, stay up to date on COVID-19 boosters, practice social distancing, wear masks in crowded settings and practice proper hygiene, including frequent hand washing.

The Department of Health continues to monitor regional hospital capacity and engaging hospital and health care systems that may be seeing larger than normal patient volumes in their emergency departments and inpatient units. The agency is urging anyone who is sick or exhibiting symptoms of a respiratory virus to first consult with their primary care provider.

Full script of Dr. Bassett's parent message:

This fall, we are facing a triple threat from respiratory infections like RSV, flu, and COVID-19.

RSV is not a new virus, but it can be dangerous for very young children.

There are things that we can do, hand washing, and teaching kids to cough or sneeze in a tissue or their elbow.

Make sure you and your children stay home when sick.

Parents and guardians, please see your pediatrician - or other provider - before you take your child to the emergency room.

Get your annual flu shot and stay up to date with COVID vaccines - including the updated bivalent booster, these will protect against severe illness and hospitalization.

Keep in mind masking indoors- especially if you live with little ones, or older adults, or other people with chronic underlying conditions.

Stay safe, thank you.

Script of Dr. Bassett's message to health care providers:

The weather is getting cooler and predictably, respiratory viral infections are increasing with RSV, influenza, and COVID-19 on the rise.

Parents and guardians are anxious, and as health care providers, you can help. It's always worth emphasizing the tried and true: Hand-washing, disinfecting surfaces and ventilation.

Children should learn to cover their cough and their sneeze using a tissue or their sleeve. Encourage parents to keep sick children home. Hydrate and manage symptoms.

Masking indoors and social distancing may be important for those who live with higher risk individuals: Infants, older adults, people born pre-term or with underlying health conditions.

Most of all, please urge vaccinations.

Annual flu shots and COVID-19 vaccines, including the updated Bivalent booster, remain our best protection against severe illness.

Thank you for your help and all you do to care for New Yorkers.

Earlier this fall, the Department of Health issued a Health Advisory Notice regarding respiratory illnesses to hospitals, local health departments, laboratories, emergency rooms, and providers in family medicine, primary care, pediatrics, adolescent medicine, infectious disease, neurology and infection control. While not specific to any one virus, the notice highlighted increased hospitalizations from these types of illnesses and provides federal resources.

The agency's annual public education campaign is also underway, reminding adults and parents to get both flu and COVID-19 shots for themselves and children 6 months and older. In addition to getting the flu and COVID-19 vaccines, there are some practical ways to avoid contracting and spreading RSV, flu and COVID-19 viruses this fall and winter:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and hot water for least 20 seconds to protect yourself from germs and avoid spreading them to others.
  • Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol to use when soap and water are not available.
  • Do not cough or sneeze into your hands. Instead, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth if you are symptomatic.

Resources are also available to help New Yorkers make informed decisions about these viruses:

  • Information about RSV.
  • Information about the flu, including fact sheets and other downloadable materials.
  • The COVID-19 website has resources for the public, schools, adult care facilities and medical laboratories.
  • Information about vaccine efficacy.

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474 - 8418
New York City: (212) 681 - 4640


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