Lawmakers introduce legislation to expand availability of flu vaccines during current flu epidemicby jmaloni
State Sen. Mark Grisanti and Assemblyman Carl Heastie have introduced legislation to expand influenza vaccination programs by providing insurance coverage for influenza vaccine and its administration at all authorized locations.
"This legislation will provide an opportunity to make vaccinations easily available in locations such as schools and school-based health centers, which makes for a safer and healthier school environment. Children who are vaccinated are much less likely to contract influenza and miss school days," Grisanti said.
Grisanti's camp said increasing the vaccination rates is critical to protecting public health and preventing the spread of the virus to vulnerable individuals in the community such as children and young adults who are three to four times more likely to be infected with influenza.
"Insurance coverage for off-site influenza vaccination will help to protect high-risk New Yorkers such as children and the elderly from a potentially deadly virus during what is expected to be the worst flu season in a decade," Heastie noted.
According to the Department of Health, despite a mild flu season last year, there were still 1,167 flu-related hospitalizations and one pediatric death. Over the past four years, there have been a total of 34 pediatric flu deaths in New York and an average of more than 4,400 flu-related hospitalizations a year. This year, the DOH reports flu-related illness is increasing in more than half the regions of the state.
The DoH recommends that everyone 6 months of age or older receive a flu vaccination.