Governor Confirms Last Week Had Most Flu Cases Since 2004

The influenza epidemic continued to increase across New York state over the past week, with 11,683 laboratory confirmed influenza cases reported to the state Department of Health and 2,221 New Yorkers hospitalized with confirmed influenza.

According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, the numbers are again the highest weekly numbers in both categories since reporting began in 2004 and exceed the most recent record-high from a couple of weeks ago of 7,779 confirmed cases and 1,759 hospitalizations.

“Flu season is in full-swing, and as the number of influenza cases and hospitalizations continue to rise at alarming levels, we must take every action to protect ourselves and our loved ones,” Cuomo said. “I am urging everyone to get vaccinated and take other necessary steps to stop the spread of this virus in New York.”

Cuomo recently signed an Executive Order allowing pharmacists to administer flu vaccines to children ages 2 to 18, increasing vaccine accessibility for New York children and families as influenza continues to spread across New York. The Executive Order suspends the section of state education law that limits the authority of pharmacists to administer immunizing agents to anyone under age 18 to allow vaccines to be administered to anyone age 2 and up. Parents and guardians are encouraged to call pharmacies ahead of their visit, to ensure they are ready to receive patients in this age group. Parents and guardians with children between the ages of 6 months and 24 months are still encouraged to see their primary care provider for the vaccination.

New York residents who have not yet been vaccinated should contact their local health care provider or pharmacy, or find information about vaccination clinics by contacting their local health department. The HealthMap Vaccine Finder also identifies locations where vaccines can be found in New York state at www.vaccinefinder.org.

The Department of Health is providing additional support to New York’s health care providers and pharmacies on the front lines of the epidemic, including:

¯ Remaining in constant communication with New York hospitals and standing ready to provide immediate support to facilities if there is a need to expand capacity to meet patient demand;

¯ Hosting a statewide webinar with pharmacies to assist with the implementation of the Governor’s Executive Order and distributing a FAQ for pharmacists about the order;

¯ Working with health insurers to ensure ongoing access to antiviral medication across New York state; and

¯ Reinforcing influenza prevention and emergency preparedness strategies in conjunction with health care associations for dissemination to all New York state hospitals.

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