This year’s reported to be unusually strong strain of flu has prompted a declaration of a public health emergency in New York State, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo announcing increased measures put into effect in hopes of reducing the effects of influenza this year.
According to Cuomo, a state of emergency was necessary ahead of the flu season’s peak, which is expected to be stronger than previous years as well as more damaging. In a statement, the governor said that some worrying flu trends prompted the declaration, and he explained:
“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 … Therefore, I have directed my administration, the State Health Department and others to marshal all needed resources to address this public health emergency.”
According to USAToday, recorded flu cases in New York ahead of Cuomo’s statement were four times that of last year’s, with twice as many hospitalizations from the illness occurring so far in the flu season.
The paper adds that increased concern over the flu emergency has driven demand for flu shots up further than in previous years, causing a reduced supply of the vaccine for many dispensing outlets:
“Others seeking the vaccine at local pharmacies were out of luck. Many CVS pharmacies throughout the area reported that they had no vaccine left. At the CVS in New City, the vaccine was still available, but so many people wanted it that customers were waiting an hour or longer for the shot.”
Public health officials in New York have advised all New Yorkers statewide to obtain flu shots if they haven’t already, and common sense precautions to avoid spreading the flu include frequent hand washing and staying out of school or work if you believe you have been infected with the strain.