Office of Children and Family Services

 

NEWS
For Immediate Release: 10/15/2018

Contact: Public Information Office

Email: press@ocfs.ny.gov

Phone: 518-402-3130

Governor Cuomo Reminds New Yorkers to Get Vaccinated as Flu Season Approaches

Launches Statewide Public Awareness Campaign Urging New Yorkers to Get Vaccinated

New York State Law Now Allows Pharmacists to Administer Flu Vaccinations to Children Between Ages 2 and 18

Flu Educational Materials for Printing and Display Available Here

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today reminded all New Yorkers to get a flu shot during the upcoming flu season, which generally begins in October and runs through May. During last year's flu season, there were 23,377 flu-related hospitalizations and 6 pediatric deaths in New York. Over the last four years, there have been a total of 25 pediatric flu deaths in New York State.

"Getting a flu shot still remains the best way to stay healthy during this season," Governor Cuomo said. "It is critical for all New Yorkers, especially older adults, young children and pregnant women, to get vaccinated as soon as possible and to take other necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the virus in New York."

In January 2018, Governor Cuomo signed an emergency executive order allowing pharmacists to administer flu vaccines to children ages 2 to 18 during the 2018 flu season. Following the signing of the emergency executive order, pharmacists vaccinated approximately 9,000 individuals ages 2 to 18 against the flu. Subsequently, the Governor passed legislation codifying this order into law. Governor Cuomo urges New Yorkers to take advantage of the expanded access and get vaccinated.

A statewide public service advertising campaign launched this week to further remind New Yorkers to get vaccinated. The Department of Health, Office of Children and Family Services, State Office for the Aging and State Education Department will coordinate efforts to target educational materials to those most at risk, including children, pregnant woman and older adults. Additionally, the State Department of Health is providing access to flu educational materials that can be printed and posted to help raise awareness.

The Office of Children and Family Services makes education materials available to all State-licensed child care providers and all State-funded after-school providers about the importance of the flu vaccine. As required by law, all schools and child care programs must have information about the vaccination clearly posted.

To receive a flu shot, people should contact their local health care provider or pharmacy, or find information about vaccination clinics by contacting their local health department.

The flu can cause severe illness. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea. People infected with the flu may have respiratory symptoms without a fever. CDC recommends that people who are very sick or people who are sick and at high risk of serious flu complications be treated early with flu antiviral drugs. Antiviral drugs work best when started within two days of symptoms first appearing. There are currently no shortages of antiviral drugs, and manufacturers report they expect to meet projected seasonal demands.

Adults aged 65 years and older, people with certain chronic medical conditions, young children and pregnant women are among those at highest risk for serious flu complications, which may require hospitalization and result in death. Because the flu virus can spread through coughing or sneezing, it is especially important for family members and people who have regular contact with high-risk individuals to be vaccinated. In addition, all healthcare workers should be vaccinated against influenza to protect their health and the health of their patients.

New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "Prevention remains the most effective method to stop the spread of the flu. Even people who are healthy, if unvaccinated, can easily spread the flu virus to family members, friends or co-workers."

New York State Office for the Aging Acting Director Greg Olsen said, "It is very important for all New Yorkers, especially older adults, to get vaccinated against the flu. Immune systems are more easily compromised as we age, and older adults, especially those with chronic health conditions, have an increased risk of developing serious complications from the flu. Getting the flu vaccine helps prevent the spread of the virus and offers vital protection for older adults and their caregivers."

Office of Children and Family Services Acting Commissioner Sheila J. Poole said, "It is tragic to learn of child deaths from something as preventable as the flu. Parents should vaccinate children who are old enough to receive the shot and anyone who cares for children or has contact with them should also be vaccinated."

In addition to getting a flu shot, it's important to practice good preventive measures everyday:

• Wash your hands often with soap and hot water for at 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% alcohol.
• Do not cough or sneeze into your hands. Instead, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, then throw it in the trash and wash your hands.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
• Avoid close contact with sick people, and limit contact with others while you are sick.
• Clean and disinfect surfaces that might be contaminated with influenza virus.

For additional information about influenza, including how it is monitored in New York State, visit: http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/influenza/seasonal/.