New York Governor Andrew Cuomo today declared a public health emergency in the state as the influenza outbreak continues to grow. Through an executive order, he has suspended a provision of the State Education Law and pharmacists can now administer the flu vaccine to children ages six months to 18 years. In his statement, the governor strongly urged New Yorkers to obtain a flu vaccination if they have not yet done so. Cuomo received his flu shot from State Health commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah on Jan. 10.
The latest data from the New York State Health department is for the week ending Jan. 5. There have been 2,8884 hospitalizations in the state since Oct. 1 for the flu. Half of those have been elderly patients. In healthcare settings, the state has seen 210 outbreaks of influenza in acute and long term care facilities. Two children have died from the illness in the state in the 2012-2013 flu season.
Influenza-like illness (ILI) was the reason for 6.82 percent of all visits to outpatient healthcare providers in the week. The baseline for this type of visit in New York and New Jersey is 2 percent. Influenza was confirmed by laboratory results from all 57 New York Counties and all five boroughs in New York City.