New York State Department of Health Achieves National Recognition for High Childhood Flu Vaccination Rates

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 10, 2016) – The New York State Department of Health (DOH) is being honored, for the second year in a row, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for having high rates of childhood influenza vaccine coverage.

During the 2014-15 flu season, 67 percent of New York children (outside of NYC) 6 months to 17 years of age received the flu vaccine, well above the national average of 59 percent. Childhood influenza vaccination coverage rates in other states ranged from 45.3 percent to 78.6 percent.

"The fact we are receiving this award for the second time demonstrates our strong commitment to vaccinating the children of New York for influenza," said State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. "For many years, the Department has taken aggressive steps to ensure that New York's youngest citizens are appropriately protected from the flu, which can be life-saving in the pediatric population."

The state's high childhood influenza vaccination rates can be attributed to several DOH initiatives including:

  • A $900,000 multimedia campaign that included television, radio, Internet radio, digital and mobile banner ads, sponsored Google searches and social media, and an influenza landing page on the DOH website.
  • Ongoing updates on influenza vaccine recommendations, vaccine availability and flu activity, which are disseminated to health care providers via email, electronic notification and webinars.
  • Educational materials on the flu vaccine distributed to schools, day care centers, nursery schools and pre-kindergarten programs throughout the state.

In the 2013-14 flu season, which was especially severe, Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order that allowed pharmacists to administer influenza vaccine to children between the ages of 6 months and 18 years. New York's use of Executive Orders to help control influenza was recently featured by the National Governor's Association as a strategy that other states should consider adopting.

Influenza typically causes fever, muscle aches, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffed nose, and fatigue. According to the CDC, influenza in children under age 5 often requires medical attention. In children under 2, the flu can cause severe complications such as pneumonia, sinus and ear infections and dehydration. In children with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease, the flu can worsen those diseases.

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