State Health Department Marks National Influenza Vaccination Week

ALBANY, NY, November 27, 2006 – New York State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., today kicked off National Influenza Vaccination Week and encouraged those New Yorkers who have not already been vaccinated to get their annual flu shots.

"Flu season is here and it's not too late for those New Yorkers who still need to be vaccinated to contact their healthcare provider and make an appointment," said Commissioner Novello. "Especially if you are a healthcare worker, caretaker, have a chronic medical condition or live with someone who has a chronic medical condition, I strongly urge you to get vaccinated for the flu. Anyone who wants to reduce their risk of the flu should get vaccinated."

National Influenza Vaccination Week is intended to raise awareness of the importance of continuing flu vaccination throughout the flu season. Over 110 million doses of flu vaccine will be distributed nationally this year by vaccine manufacturers. Some providers have already received all of their flu vaccine order and others should receive their remaining orders soon.

As part of a State flu awareness effort, health care workers, mothers of infants and "procrastinators" are being targeted through radio announcements. "Ask me why I got my flu shot" buttons and posters are also being provided to all healthcare facilities to urge healthcare professionals to get their flu shots.

Healthcare providers participating in Child Health Plus and the State Vaccines for Children program have received their flu vaccine. Additionally, all healthcare providers and health insurers have been contacted by the State Health Department to inform them that the vaccination of healthcare personnel is now a standard of care in New York. The Department continues to monitor and survey nursing homes for influenza outbreaks and requires that all long term care residents and staff receive flu and pneumococcal shots

Those at higher risk for flu include:

  • Anyone with chronic illnesses such as heart, lung or kidney disease or diabetes;
  • Pregnant women and infants aged 24 months to 59 months;
  • Residents of long term care facilities;
  • People aged 50 years or older; and,
  • Health care workers and caregivers of high risk persons.

Each year in the United States, between 5 and 20 percent of the population is infected with influenza, about 36,000 people die and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized due to complications from influenza.

For more information about influenza visit www.health.ny.gov or cdc.gov/flu.