New York State Department of Health Announces Number of Flu Cases Declining, Yet Three New Pediatric Flu Deaths Reported This Week

17% Decrease in Lab-Confirmed Flu Cases and 23% Decrease in Hospitalizations Since Last Week

Find Locations Where You Can get the Flu Shot Near You Here, and Track Flu Cases in Your Area Here

ALBANY, N.Y. (February 20, 2020) - New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker today announced that for the first time since flu was categorized as widespread across New York State in December, the number of laboratory-confirmed influenza cases has decreased 17 percent. Last week, 14,270 laboratory-confirmed influenza cases were reported to the state Department of Health. The number of weekly hospitalizations decreased 23 percent with 1,571 New Yorkers hospitalized for lab confirmed influenza.

Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "Even though the number of flu cases has declined, sadly, we experienced three flu-associated pediatric deaths this week and flu activity is still widespread in New York State. People should continue to remain vigilant by getting vaccinated and take other preventive steps to avoid getting the flu."

The latest influenza surveillance report for the week ending February 15 shows seasonal flu activity continues to be widespread across New York State for the 12th consecutive week. As indicated in the report, there were three new influenza-associated pediatric deaths, for a total of six influenza-associated pediatric flu deaths this season. To protect patient privacy, the Department can only confirm that one pediatric death occurred in a New York City resident and the other five pediatric deaths were in other regions of New York State.

The most lab-confirmed influenza cases reported during a single flu season was 128,892 in 2017-18. There have been a total of 121,088 lab-confirmed cases reported in New York State this season. Flu season occurs primarily from October through May.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conduct studies each year to determine how effective each year's vaccine is at protecting against influenza. CDC preliminary vaccine effectiveness estimates indicate that the 2019-20 flu vaccine is providing substantial protective benefit this season. Flu vaccines are reducing doctor visits associated with flu illness by 45 percent overall and 55 percent in children. This is consistent with estimates of flu vaccine effectiveness from previous seasons that ranged from 40 – 60 percent.

Influenza activity data is available on the New York State Flu Tracker. The Flu Tracker is a dashboard on the New York State Health Connector that provides timely information about local, regional and statewide influenza activity.

The State Health Department recommends and urges that everyone six months of age or older receive an influenza vaccination. It is especially important that children six months – eight years-old who have gotten less than two doses of flu vaccine in their lifetime receive two doses of flu vaccine spaced at least four weeks apart for best protection against flu this season. In addition, everyday preventative actions can help stop the spread of flu and other respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

For additional information about influenza in New York State, visit the Department of Health web page.