New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker urges all New Yorkers six months of age and over who have not yet received a flu shot to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
The state agency reported that over the past week, cases of influenza rose by 37%, and new cases of influenza were reported in 61 of 62 counties.
New York State also reported its first influenza-associated pediatric death this season, which was confirmed by the Wadsworth Center, the state’s public health laboratory. To protect the family’s privacy, the Department can only confirm that the death occurred downstate.
For the last five weeks, influenza has been geographically widespread, according to the agency. As of January 6, 11,280 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza have been reported and 3,606 people have been hospitalized with influenza in New York State this season.
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 could result in death.
Since 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.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vaccination should continue throughout flu season, as long as flu viruses are circulating.
Flu vaccine can vary in how well it works, but remains the best way to prevent illness and flu complications, including those that can lead to hospitalization.