State health officials report 15,753 confirmed influenza cases; 2,349 New Yorkers hospitalized
ALBANY – Governor Andrew Cuomo has directed New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker to authorize emergency assistance funding to counties as flu diagnoses continued to increase in communities across the state.
According to the governor’s office, the action provides enhanced reimbursement to counties and will help fund expanded efforts to promote and increase access to flu vaccines statewide. Governor Cuomo is calling on all 58 local health departments to expand efforts to more readily accommodate New Yorkers still needing a flu shot.
“As flu diagnoses and hospitalizations continue to increase to epidemic proportions, this administration is doing everything in its power to protect New Yorkers from this especially durable strain of influenza,” Governor Cuomo said. “I ask all New Yorkers to take advantage of this expanded access to flu vaccines and join us in slowing down and stopping the spread of this virus in the Empire State.”
With 15,753 laboratory confirmed influenza cases reported to the New York State Department of Health, and 2,349 New Yorkers hospitalized with confirmed influenza, these numbers are again the highest weekly numbers in both categories since reporting began in 2004 and exceed last week’s record high 11,683 confirmed cases and 2,221 hospitalizations.
The Department of Health’s website links to each local health department providing the public a one-stop-shop approach to individual counties’ expanded efforts. Additionally, the HealthMap Vaccine Finder also identifies locations where vaccines can be found at other locations in New York State at www.vaccinefinder.org.
Governor Cuomo has also directed local health departments to re-focus enhanced outreach to vulnerable populations, including daycares, nursing homes, senior centers, and homeless shelters, to reemphasize the need for flu vaccinations, provide targeted education regarding the signs and symptoms of flu, and to identify and assist those populations with low vaccine rates. Furthermore, local health departments will coordinate with local school superintendents to identify schools experiencing an increase in absenteeism rates due to illness among students and staff and link them to ongoing education and vaccination efforts. These partnerships will further ensure effective education and guidance is provided to protect children.