New York State Department of Health Urges New Yorkers 6 Months and Older to Get the Flu Vaccine As Flu-Related Cases and Hospitalizations Continue to Rise
Latest Report Shows Four Pediatric Deaths as well as a 19 Percent Week-Over-Week Jump in Flu Cases and Six Percent Increase in Hospitalizations in New York
Find Vaccination Locations Near You: vaccines.gov
ALBANY, N.Y. (December 19, 2022) – As flu cases continue to climb across the State, the New York State Department of Health reminds New Yorkers to take preventive action, including getting a flu shot. A new report shows a 19 percent week-over-week jump in lab-confirmed cases across New York and a six percent increase in flu-related hospitalizations.
"As winter begins and we enter the holiday season, New Yorkers are battling the triple-demic of flu, RSV and COVID-19, yet we can take steps to prevent serious complications from the flu. The flu vaccine is a good match this year and the best way to avoid serious illness is to get vaccinated," State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said."I encourage everyone aged six months and older to get vaccinated as soon as possible, and to consider wearing a high-quality mask during indoor celebrations and in crowded settings. These recommendations are simple but important ways to protect our families and our communities from serious illness this winter."
The weekly flu report also confirmed a total of four influenza-associated pediatric deaths in the state. To protect patient privacy, the Department can only confirm the deaths.
Influenza remains widespread across New York, with lab-confirmed cases in the latest report up 19 percent for the week ending December 10 over the previous week, and week-over-week hospitalizations up six percent. Emergency department visits for patients with flu-like symptoms are also continuing to rise. The Department's most recent influenza surveillance report also found 79 lab-confirmed outbreaks in long-term and acute care facilities in the State for the same week.
The report is available on the Department's Flu Tracker dashboard, which provides timely information about local, regional and statewide influenza activity. It shows that so far this flu season, there have been a total of 166,273 positive influenza cases across all 62 counties in New York
Nationally, the weekly U.S. surveillance report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates there have been 9,300 deaths across the country so far this season attributed to flu, including 30 pediatric deaths. Additionally, an estimated 150,000 hospitalizations have been due to influenza, which is a higher cumulative rate than during the same time period for each flu season since 2010-2011.
As the holiday season ramps up with indoor gatherings and celebrations, it is important to take precautions to protect against the flu, including getting vaccinated and wearing a mask in crowded indoor spaces, especially if you are symptomatic or are among populations at heightened risk. Those considered most vulnerable to infection include children under the age of five, pregnant women, older people and those with underlying health conditions, such as a weakened immune system, diabetes, heart and lung disease, and asthma.
The influenza vaccine is effective in preventing individuals from getting the flu and reducing the risk of severe illness for children and adults if they become infected. Studies compiled by the CDC have found that the vaccine carries a number of important health benefits, especially for those at risk:
- It prevents people from getting sick with flu, cutting the risk of having to go to the doctor by 40 to 60 percent.
- In children, the vaccine reduces the risk of severe, life-threatening influenza by 75 percent; decreases flu-related hospitalizations by 41 percent; and cuts the risk of emergency department visits in half.
- Flu vaccination during pregnancy reduces the risk of being hospitalized by an average of 40 percent and helps protect the baby from flu for several months after birth, when babies are too young to get vaccinated.
- For older adults, the vaccine reduces the risk of flu-associated hospitalization by about 40 percent.
- Among those with chronic health conditions, the vaccine is associated with lower rates of some cardiac events, as well as reducing the risk of hospitalization from flu-related worsening of lung diseases and diabetes.
The Department is utilizing a number of tools to increase public awareness of rising flu rates and the importance of vaccinations as a critical prevention step, including sharing information on social media platforms Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
The flu vaccine is also widely available, found at pharmacies, health clinics and physician's offices across the state. To locate a flu vaccine location near you, visit vaccines.gov.
In addition to getting the vaccine and wearing a mask when indoors or in crowds, simple preventative actions can help stop the spread of flu and other respiratory viruses:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
For more information about influenza in New York, visit the Department's flu website.