Gov. Cuomo signs executive order to combat widespread flu epidemic

FILE - In this Jan. 14, 2005 file photo, a man sneezes holding a tissue in Berlin, Germany. According to a case study published Monday, Jan. 15, 2018, in the journal BMJ Case Reports, doctors in England say stifling a big sneeze can be hazardous for your health in rare cases, based on the very unusual experience of a man who ruptured the back of his throat when he tried to stop a sneeze. (AP Photo/Roberto Pfeil, File)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order to combat the widespread flu in the state.

The order will allow pharmacists to administer flu vaccines to children between ages two and 18.

Officials say over the past week, more than 7,700 laboratory-confirmed cases were reported to the state and more than 1,750 New Yorkers have been hospitalized with confirmed influenza.

“As the number of flu cases continues to rise throughout the state, it is imperative that we make it as easy as possible for New Yorkers to get the flu vaccine to protect themselves, their families, and their communities this season. Building on the actions taken last week, the Department of Health will be launching an aggressive flu prevention and awareness campaign, providing text alerts on where to get the vaccine, monitoring health care facility capacity, and coordinating flu response activities with local health departments, provider associations, pharmacies, and healthcare facilities,” New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said.

To receive a flu shot, contact your local healthcare provider or pharmacy, or find information about vaccination clinics by contacting your local health department. Flu shots may also be found through the HealthMap Vaccine Finder at www.vaccinefinder.org.

In addition to the steps taken by the Department of Health last week, the Governor ordered the following actions to protect New Yorkers from influenza and ensure health care system capacity:

  • Issuance of Department of Financial Services guidance to health insurers to ensure that prior authorization is not a barrier to the prescribing of antiviral medications within the first 48 hours of illness.
  • Direct engagement with all New York State county health commissioners to review the four key strategies of influenza control- vaccination, rapid antiviral treatment, isolation of sick individuals, and good hand hygiene- and promote local vaccination awareness efforts.
  • Ongoing communication with all New York State hospitals and nursing homes to review capacity management strategies and the actions available to expand capacity to handle patient surge.
  • Continued monitoring of hospital capacity through survey and direct outreach to hospital leadership.

For more information about the flu, visit ww.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/influenza/seasonal.

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