New York State Department of Health Reminds New Yorkers to Stay Vigilant As Flu Remains Widespread, Even Though Cases Are Trending Down
The Department Encourages Vaccination To Help Protect Against the Flu
Weekly Flu Report Shows Two New Pediatric Deaths Attributed to Influenza in New York
Find Nearby Flu Shot Locations: vaccines.gov
ALBANY, N.Y. (January 23, 2023) – The New York State Department of Health today urged people to stay vigilant and not let their guard down this flu season because the Department's Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report shows that even as the number of flu cases declined 50 percent from 14,656 to 7,373 for the week ending Jan. 14, the virus remains widespread across the State for the 15th consecutive week. The Department also announced two additional pediatric deaths in New York, bringing the total to eight so far this season.
"Seeing fewer people sick with the flu is encouraging. But we are still seeing cases and protecting our children and the most vulnerable remains very important," Acting State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "If you are sick with the flu, stay home so you do not spread this illness to others. If they haven't already done so, New Yorkers should get a flu shot to help protect against getting serious disease from the flu."
The Department's latest flu surveillance report, with data through Jan. 14, shows a total of 300,907 influenza cases reported to date in New York. Long-term care and acute-care facilities reported 13 new outbreaks of flu, bringing the total this flu season to 457 outbreaks.
Lab-confirmed flu cases have decreased for the fifth consecutive week. Hospitalizations for the week ending Jan. 14 were at 798, a drop of 52 percent from the previous week.
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) shows an estimated 17,000 deaths across the country attributed to the flu so far this season, with 85 influenza-associated pediatric deaths reported this season. The CDC's report also found an estimated 270,000 hospitalizations due to influenza to date.
In addition to a flu shot, individuals can consider wearing 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 those with underlying health conditions. The Jan. 14 flu report describes underlying medical conditions of individuals hospitalized with influenza so far this season, including hypertension, cardiovascular disease and chronic lung disease.
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.
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 reduces the chance of 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 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 vaccines.gov.
In addition to getting the vaccine and considering 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.