State Department of Health Urges All New Yorkers to Get the Annual Flu Shot as Cases Increase

Reports Flu Season is Already Widespread Across New York

Flu & COVID-19 Especially Serious for Older Adults, Young Children, Pregnant Women & Those with Chronic Health Conditions

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ALBANY, N. Y. (October 5, 2022) – The New York State Department of Health is reminding all New Yorkers to get their annual flu vaccination, as influenza is already considered widespread across the State. Since September, cases have been increasing, with 596 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza for the week ending October 1. As influenza and COVID-19 are circulating simultaneously, those eligible should also get a COVID-19 booster.

"I urge all New Yorkers to protect themselves and their family and friends by getting a flu vaccine as soon as possible," New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said. "With the early and aggressive spread of influenza, the annual flu shot is the most effective protection against serious illness. The COVID-19 booster can also be administered at the same time as the flu shot to further protect your health and those around you."

Flu season usually runs from October through May, and typically peaks between December and February. This year cases started being reported in higher than usual numbers in September, and cases of laboratory-confirmed flu are increasing week over week. As of October 3, the number of New York counties reporting cases of influenza is 44, which is considered widespread, a determination made when more than half of the state's 62 counties report lab-confirmed cases.

The regions reporting the highest number of cases are the New York City/Metropolitan area, the Capital District and Central New York, with upstate counties recording 57 percent of the 596 confirmed cases last week. By comparison, last year there were 150 cases as of October 9. Data on weekly cases during previous flu seasons can be viewed here. The State tracks flu activity on a seasonal dashboard which will go live online at the end of October.

Both COVID-19 and the flu are contagious respiratory illnesses that have similar symptoms, making it difficult to distinguish between the two viral infections. Symptoms of both, which can range from mild to severe, include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Respiratory symptoms may be present without fever and some people may also experience vomiting and diarrhea.

This early and substantial increase in influenza cases means that New Yorkers should get the flu vaccine as soon as possible, earlier than perhaps they typically would. The flu vaccine is available to those six months and older but as with COVID-19, those aged 65 years and older, people with certain chronic medical conditions, young children and pregnant women are most in jeopardy of developing serious complications, which could require hospitalization and result in death.

To protect against contracting both viruses, the new COVID-19 bivalent booster vaccine can be administered at the same time as the seasonal flu vaccine, for those eligible. The COVID-19 bivalent booster from Pfizer-BioNTech is for anyone age 12 or older and from Moderna for those 18 or older who are at least two months past receiving their primary series of vaccinations or the original booster. Both influenza and COVID-19 vaccines are in strong supply across the state. To find locations near you to get both vaccinations, visit

In addition to getting the flu and COVID-19 vaccines, there are some practical ways to avoid contracting and spreading both viruses this fall and winter:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and hot water for 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.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth if you are symptomatic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says adults over the age of 65 should take additional precautions:

  • Seek medical advice early to see if you need treatment with antiviral drugs. These types of medications are most effective when given early.
  • Get a pneumococcal vaccine. People who are 65 years of age and older and get the flu are at risk of developing pneumonia.

The Department also has resources to help you make informed decisions about these contagions and vaccines in general:

  • Information about the flu is available here, including fact sheets and other downloadable materials.
  • The COVID-19 website has resources for the public, schools, adult care facilities and medical laboratories.
  • Information about vaccine efficacy and safety can be found here.