NY seeing drastic rise in influenza cases

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – For the last six weeks, New York health officials say the flu has been widespread across the state.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is now calling on the Department of Health to work with healthcare associations to take urgent action against influenza. He’s also urging New Yorkers six months of age and over who have not yet received a flu shot to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

According to the Department of Health, cases of influenza rose 54 percent and new cases have been reported in all counties over the past week. More than 1,600 people have been hospitalized in the state with laboratory-confirmed influenza.

“With flu cases on the rise, New Yorkers should take steps to get vaccinated and protect themselves and their loved ones,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I am directing the Department of Health to work with local providers to help protect our communities from this flu outbreak, and I urge all New Yorkers to visit local health centers and get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

In addition to calling on all New Yorkers to get vaccinated, Governor Cuomo directed the Department of Health to take the following actions:

  • Continue surveillance of hospitals statewide on bed capacity and supply of vaccines and antiviral medications;
  • Coordinate with Greater New York Hospital Association, Healthcare Association of New York State, and the Community Health Care Association of New York State to support hospitals on capacity issues and encourage them to review their surge plans to expand capacity; 
  • Ensure that New York continues to have an adequate supply of flu vaccine and remaining in close communication with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) regarding vaccine availability. CDC is currently reporting adequate supplies of flu vaccine nationwide; and
  • Promote the usage of HealthMap Vaccine Finder, developed by Google and supported by the CDC, a free and helpful online service that allows users to search for locations offering immunizations. To find a flu vaccine near you, please visit: www.vaccinefinder.org.

To receive a flu shot, contact your local healthcare provider or pharmacy, or find information about vaccination clinics by contacting your local health department.

In addition to getting a flu shot, it’s important 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.

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