New York Governor Declares Flu Emergency

His announcement said 19,128 cases of influenza have been reported in New York this season, more than quadrupling the total of 4,404 positive laboratory tests that were reported all of last season.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a Public Health Emergency for all of New York State on Jan. 12 in response to an increasingly severe flu season. He issued an executive order that allows pharmacists to administer flu vaccinations to patients between six months and 18 years of age, suspending for 30 days the section of the State Education Law that says they may administer immunizing agents only to individuals at least 18 years old.

His announcement says 19,128 cases of influenza have been reported in the state this season, more than quadrupling the total of 4,404 positive laboratory tests that were reported all of last season (2011-2012). "Additionally, as of January 5, 2013, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) received reports of 2,884 patients hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza, compared to 1,169 total hospitalizations in 2011. To date, two children in New York State and eighteen children across the United States and have died as a result of this year's seasonal influenza," the announcement states.

"We are experiencing the worst flu season since at least 2009, and influenza activity in New York State is widespread, with cases reported in all 57 counties and all five boroughs of New York City," Cuomo said. "Therefore, I have directed my administration, the State Health Department, and others to marshal all needed resources to address this public health emergency and remove all barriers to ensure that all New Yorkers, children and adults alike, have access to critically needed flu vaccines."

He urged New Yorkers who have yet been vaccinated to get a flu shot as soon as possible and said the State Health Department will work with county, regional, and private health care partners and local health departments to launch a broad promotion of flu immunization. DOH provides to health care facilities a toolkit for flu vaccination programs at www.health.ny.gov/prevention/immunization/toolkits/.

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