G overnor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order last week that paves the way for young children to receive the flu vaccination.
Under the order, pharmacists will be allowed to administer the vaccination to children between six and 18 months of age. Previously, pharmacists could only administer the vaccination to individuals who were at least 18 years old.
Already 19,128 cases of influenza have been reported in New York this season, far more than the total of 4,404 positive laboratory tests that were reported all of last season (2011-2012).
The governor and the state Department of Health are strongly urging everyone who has not received a flu shot to get one.
Flu vaccine can be obtained at health care providers’ offices, local health departments, and pharmacies across the state. Since flu often continues into late winter or early spring, vaccinations at this time of year offer important protection. DOH recommends that everyone six months of age or older receive a flu vaccination. Those under six months of age cannot get a flu vaccination.
Since the flu virus can spread through coughing or sneezing, it is important that family members and people who regularly come in contact with young children or individuals at high risk get a flu shot. In addition, all health care workers should be vaccinated against influenza and other communicable diseases to protect their health and the health of their patients.
Symptoms of influenza resemble those of a cold, but come on swiftly and are more pronounced. A person who has the flu usually has a fever, chills, a severe headache, and muscle aches, as well as a cough or sore throat. Although most people will usually recover from flu without complications, the virus poses a more serious risk for individuals younger than age two, those over 50, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems or chronic medical conditions.
For additional information about influenza, including statewide surveillance, visit the State Health Department website at http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/influenza/seasonal/