Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order today, Jan. 12, declaring a health emergency in New York State. More than 19,000 cases of influenza have been reported in the state this season, including two pediatric deaths. The Governor’s office reports that the New York State Department of Health has confirmed nearly 3,000 flu cases have required hospitalization.
“We are experiencing the worst flu season since at least 2009, and influenza activity in New York State is widespread, with cases reported in all 57 counties and all five boroughs of New York City. Therefore, I have directed my Administration, the State Health Department and others to marshal all needed resources to address this public health emergency and remove all barriers to ensure that all New Yorkers - children and adults alike - have access to critically needed flu vaccines.” — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
The declaration suspends New York law that limits the authority of pharmacists to administer the influenza vaccine to persons younger than 18. For the next 30 days, New York pharmacist will be allowed to give flu shots to patients between 6 months and 18 years old.
The Governor encourages New Yorkers that have not yet been vaccinated to get the flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported yesterday, Jan. 11, that this season’s vaccines are 62 percent effective. New Yorkers can find a local vaccine provider online at the Health Map Vaccine finder and entering their zip code. New Yorkers without internet access can call 1-800-522-5006 or through TTY access at 1-800-655-1789 to find a nearby provider.
According to the CDC, it takes two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection. In the meantime, you are still at risk for getting the flu.