New York State Department of Health Reminds New Yorkers That Flu Is Still Widespread and to Get Vaccinated
The Department's Latest Report Shows One New Pediatric Death, for a Total of Six Pediatric Deaths Associated With Influenza This Season
Acute Care and Long Term Care Facilities Report 48 New Outbreaks of Flu
Find Nearby Flu Shot Locations: vaccines.gov
ALBANY, N.Y. (January 9, 2023) – The New York State Department of Health continues to emphasize the importance of everyone aged six months and older getting a flu shot, with the Department's latest report showing that flu is still widespread. The Department also announced an additional pediatric death in New York, bringing the total to six so far this season.
"It's not too late to get a flu shot, even into January and February, as getting a flu shot remains the best protection against the flu," Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "The flu is easily transmitted from person-to-person and can cause serious complications that may require hospitalization."
The Department's latest flu surveillance report, with data through Dec. 31, shows a total of 278,886 positive influenza cases across all 62 counties in New York reported to date. Long-term care and acute-care facilities reported 48 new outbreaks of flu, bringing the total this flu season to 397 cases.
While lab-confirmed flu cases are down 41 percent across New York, falling from 38,891 to 22,905 new cases, weekly case numbers are still at significant levels. Hospitalizations were also down seven percent from the previous week, ending the week of Dec. 31 at 2,375 hospitalizations across the State.
The report is available on the Department of Health's Flu Tracker, which provides timely information about local, regional, and statewide flu activity. Nationally, the weekly U.S. surveillance report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates there have been 14,000 deaths across the country attributed to the flu so far this season, including 74 influenza-associated pediatric deaths. CDC's report found an estimated 230,000 hospitalizations due to influenza, putting the cumulative rate at 3.5 times higher than the highest rate for this same time over the last decade.
In addition to a flu shot, individuals are also encouraged to wear a well-fitting mask, especially for those who experience symptoms or live with, care for, or are considered at a heightened risk of severe illness, including children five years of age or younger, pregnant people, older adults and/or those with underlying health conditions such as a weakened immune system, diabetes, heart and/or lung disease and/or asthma.
To treat influenza infections, there are antiviral medications that can be prescribed by health care providers, such as Tamiflu, which can reduce the length and severity of the flu. Amid reports of spot shortages in some areas, the federal government recently gave the State permission to tap into the Strategic National Stockpile to secure Tamiflu and ensure supplies are available as needed.
Avoiding illness by getting the flu shot remains the most effective way to prevent infection and reduce the risk of severe illness for children and adults. According to research gathered by the CDC, vaccination has significant health advantages, particularly for people at risk of getting very sick, including:
- It prevents people from getting sick with the flu, cutting the risk of having to go to the doctor by 40 to 60 percent.
- In children, the vaccine reduces the risk of severe, life-threatening influenza by 75 percent; decreases flu-related hospitalizations by 41 percent; and cuts the risk of emergency department visits in half.
- Flu vaccination during pregnancy reduces the risk of being hospitalized by an average of 40 percent and helps protect the baby from flu for several months after birth, when babies are too young to get vaccinated.
- For older adults, the vaccine reduces the risk of flu-associated hospitalization by about 40 percent.
- Among those with chronic health conditions, the vaccine is associated with lower rates of some cardiac events, as well as reducing the risk of hospitalization from flu-related worsening of lung diseases and diabetes.
The Department is utilizing a number of tools to increase public knowledge about the spread of flu and the importance of vaccinations as a critical prevention step, including sharing information on social media platforms Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
The flu vaccine is widely available, found at pharmacies, health clinics and physician's offices across the state. The Department also strongly encourages everyone who is eligible, age six months and older, to get a COVID-19 vaccine. It is safe to get both the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time. To find a flu or COVID-19 vaccine location near you, visit vaccines.gov.
In addition to getting the vaccine and to consider wearing a well-fitting mask when indoors or in crowds, simple preventative actions can help stop the spread of flu and other respiratory viruses:
- Wash 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 eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when sick.
- Cover cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
For more information about influenza in New York, visit the Department of Health's flu website.