Just in case you haven't already entrenched yourself inside your panic room over this flu epidemic (or since you definitely don't have room for a panic room, perhaps you are at least huddled under a desk?), Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a Public Health Emergency today for all of NY State in response to the increasingly severe flu season. This comes as confirmed cases of influenza increased 55% last week alone, and at least two children in NY state—and 18 across the country—have died as a result.
“We are experiencing the worst flu season since at least 2009, and influenza activity in New York State is widespread, with cases reported in all 57 counties and all five boroughs of New York City,” Governor Cuomo said in a release. He noted that there have been 19,128 cases of influenza reported in NY this season; last season, there were only 4.404 reports altogether. As of January 5th, the DOH has received reports of 2,884 patients hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza, compared to 1,169 total hospitalizations in 2011
Cuomo's Executive Order allows pharmacists to administer flu vaccinations to patients between six months and 18 years of age; previously, pharmacists only were authorized to administer the vaccine to people who are 18 or older. New Yorkers can find a local vaccine provider by visiting http://flushot.healthmap.org/ and entering their zip code. New Yorkers without internet access can call 1-800-522-5006 or through TTY access at 1-800-655-1789 to find a nearby provider.
But in case this is all making you feel a little too good, here are some more sickening facts: emergency room visits in NYC due to the flu are up 150 percent from last year. All but three states in the US are grappling with the flu epidemic. But at least you have a really good reason to avoid visiting Boston this winter.
And OH YEAH, this year’s flu vaccine is effective in just 62 percent of cases, according to the US Centers for Disease Control. It seems the shots are least effective among the people who need it most: elderly or people with health problems. “It’s a glass 62 percent full,” reasoned CDC director Thomas Frieden.