WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a public health emergency today in response to this year’s severe flu season.
Cuomo has issued an executive order allowing pharmacists to administer flu vaccinations to patients between 6 months and 18 years of age.
The order will suspend the law that limits pharmacists to administer flu vaccinations only to patients older than 18. Cuomo is strongly urging New Yorkers who have not yet received a flu shot to schedule one immediately, as influenza cases continue to rise sharply across the state.
To date, all of the influenza A (H1N1) and influenza A (H3N2) viruses that have been tested match the vaccine and approximately 69 percent of the known influenza B viruses match the vaccine.
“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,” Cuomo said. “Therefore, I have directed my administration, the state Health Department and others to marshal all needed resources to address this public health emergency and remove all barriers to ensure that all New Yorkers - children and adults alike - have access to critically needed flu vaccines.”
There have been more than 19,000 cases of influenza already reported so far this season, more than four times the number last year. To make sure all New Yorkers know the magnitude of this year’s flu season, a promotional effort will be continuously updated via press advisories and media events, along with dedicated websites and social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.
The state Health Department provides a web-based tool kit for influenza vaccination programs at www.health.ny.gov/prevention/immunization/toolkits/.
New Yorkers can find a local vaccine provider by visiting http://flushot.healthmap.org/ and entering their zip code.
Those without Internet access can call 1-800-522-5006 or through TTY access at 1-800-655-1789 to find a nearby provider.
Individuals who have flu-like symptoms should call their doctor first before heading to the hospital. There’s no need to go to the hospital unless your doctor advises you to, officials said.
For additional information about influenza, including statewide surveillance, visit http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/influenza/seasonal/.