Flu Cases Decline for Fourth Consecutive Week Since Categorized As Geographically Widespread

19% Decrease in Lab Confirmed Flu Cases and 29% Decrease in Hospitalizations Since Last Week—Fourth and Sixth Straight Weeks of Decline Respectively

3,005 New Flu Cases in New York State, 493 Hospitalized for Flu in Past Week

Nearly 9,000 New Yorkers Ages 2-18 Vaccinated at Pharmacies Since Governor's January 25 Executive Order

Flu Vaccines Are Still Available Across the State - Find One Near You

Albany, N.Y. (March 22, 2018) - The New York State Department of Health today announced that for the fourth consecutive week since being categorized as geographically widespread, the number of laboratory confirmed influenza cases has decreased across New York.Last week, 3,005 laboratory confirmed influenza cases were reported to the New York State Department of Health. The number of weekly hospitalizations decreased for the sixth consecutive week since influenza was declared prevalent in December, with 493 New Yorkers hospitalized for lab confirmed influenza.

Influenza has been categorized as geographically widespread for the last 13 weeks in New York State.As of March 17, 114,415 laboratory confirmed cases of influenza have been reported and 20,612 people have been hospitalized with influenza in New York this season. There have been five pediatric influenza-associated deaths this flu season. 18,916 children under the age of five have been diagnosed with lab confirmed influenza and 1,372 have been hospitalized. During last year's flu season, there were 12,912 flu-related hospitalizations and eight pediatric deaths in New York. Over the previous four years, there was a total of 25 pediatric flu deaths in New York State and an average of 10,571 flu-related hospitalizations a year.

"While I am again encouraged to see a decline in the number of flu cases across the state, it is as important as ever to continue to take all appropriate steps to prevent the spread of the virus," said Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker. "I thank the Governor for the bold actions he has taken to protect the health of New Yorkers this flu season and I remind anyone that hasn't yet been vaccinated that it's not too late."

Since being categorized as geographically widespread, Governor Cuomo has announced several aggressive actions to combat the spread of the flu, including an Executive Order that suspended 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. Governor Cuomo also recently announced a 30-day budget amendment to codify the Executive Order 176 and increase convenience and vaccine accessibility by amending state education law allowing pharmacists to administer flu vaccines to children ages 2 to 18. As a result, this legislation will encourage pharmacies to enroll in the New York State Vaccines for Children Program, which provides vaccines to children and individuals regardless of their ability to pay. The Governor also called on individual physicians to enroll in the Vaccines for Children program, if not already enrolled.

Governor Cuomo also previously directed the New York State Department of Health to authorize enhanced reimbursement for counties statewide to further expanded flu vaccination efforts at the local level. The Department's website links to local health departments, providing New Yorkers with a one-stop-shop approach to finding local vaccination clinics. The Department of Health is also promoting the use of HealthMap Vaccine Finder which identifies locations where vaccines can be found at other locations in New York State at http://www.vaccinefinder.org/.

In addition to getting a flu shot and staying home when sick, it's essential to practice good hand-hygiene:

  • Unlike some viruses, influenza is easily killed by soap and hot water.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds to protect yourself from germs and avoid spreading them to others.
  • Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to use when soap and water are not available. Choose a product with at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Do not cough or sneeze into your hands. Instead, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. People with the flu are infectious for up to 7 days after symptoms begin.
  • For more information about the flu, visit: www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/influenza/seasonal