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Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday encouraged New Yorkers to get a flu shot to prepare for the flu season, which usually begins in October and runs through May. The New York state flu tracker launches today. The tracker displays daily and weekly flu data and provides timely information about local, regional and statewide flu activity.
"This fall could be a one-two punch for infection as we manage the start of another flu season while working diligently to keep the COVID-19 virus at bay," Cuomo said. "I'm reminding all New Yorkers that getting a flu shot not only protects you from the flu, but will allow us to direct vital health care resources to fighting the next wave of the COVID-19 virus."
During the 2019-20 flu season, there were 22,217 flu-associated hospitalizations in the state and 13 pediatric deaths.
New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "I cannot stress enough how important it is to get your flu shot to protect yourself this season against the dual threat of COVID-19, which can mimic flu symptoms. The ability to track activity for both viruses on a daily basis will help identify trends and help the department put the appropriate public health measures in place. I also want to remind New Yorkers that contracting the flu does not mean you cannot contract COVID-19 and vice versa."
The Department of Health recommends anyone over 6 months of age get vaccinated for the flu to protect themselves and others during the upcoming flu season. It said 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.”
Over the past four years, there have been a total of 33 pediatric flu-associated deaths in New York and an average of 19,318 flu-related hospitalizations each year. In January 2019, during the severe 2017-2018 flu season, Cuomo signed an emergency executive order allowing pharmacists to administer the flu vaccine to children ages 2 to 18. Subsequently, he passed legislation codifying the order into law. During the 2019-20 flu season, 56,264 flu shots were administered by pharmacies to children under the age of 18 in New York state outside of New York City.
More information about the flu is available here.
More information about the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is available here.