New Yorkers Reminded It’s not too late to Vaccinate for Influenza

Increase in number of flu cases reported; Vaccine is still plentiful

ALBANY, N.Y. (January 27, 2016) - With peak flu season right around the corner, and an increase in the number of flu cases reported statewide, the New York State Department of Health today reminded New Yorkers that it's not too late to get their annual flu shot. Flu season occurs primarily from October through May. The 2015-16 season has been mild so far but cases are on the increase.

"Getting a flu shot now can still protect you from illness this season, even though the season has already started," said state Health Commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker. "The vaccine is especially important for people aged 65 and up, who are more likely to develop complications such as pneumonia and death."

To date, there have been 369 flu-related hospitalizations in New York State. No pediatric deaths due to the flu have been reported. Over the last four years, there have been a total of 26 pediatric flu deaths in New York and an average of more than 7,767 flu-related hospitalizations per year.

Symptoms of influenza are similar to those of the common cold, but come on more swiftly and are more pronounced. Typical flu symptoms include a fever of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, chills, a severe headache and muscle aches, as well as a cough or sore throat.

The State Health Department recommends that everyone six months of age or older receive a flu vaccination. The flu poses a more serious risk for individuals younger than two or over 50, as well as pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems or chronic medical conditions.

Since the flu virus can spread to family members through coughing or sneezing, it is especially important that family members and people who regularly come in contact with young children or high-risk individuals get a flu shot. In addition, all health care workers should be vaccinated against influenza to protect their health and the health of their patients. Once the Health Commissioner declares flu is prevalent this season, health care workers will be required to get the flu vaccine or wear a surgical mask to safeguard their patients.

In October, the Department of Health launched a public awareness campaign that included messaging for television, radio and digital ads, and social media, reminding New Yorkers that influenza germs are everywhere and that vaccination is the best protection against infection.

For additional information about influenza, including how it is monitored in New York State, visit the Department of Health web page at: