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Influenza now prevalent in New York State, Health Department says

Agency urges vaccinations as it reports more than 1,800 confirmed flu cases, with more than 600 people requiring hospitalization.

An influenza vaccine syringe at Syosset Hospital on

An influenza vaccine syringe at Syosset Hospital on Dec. 6, 2017. Credit: Barry Sloan

ALBANY — The state Health Department says influenza is now prevalent in New York State, which means health care workers who haven’t had a flu shot must wear procedural masks around patients.

Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker says everyone over 6 months old is encouraged to get a flu shot as soon as possible. He says the vaccine is especially important for people at high risk of complications from flu, including children under 2, pregnant women and adults over 65.

The agency says there have been more than 1,800 confirmed cases of influenza in 54 counties and all boroughs of New York City. More than 600 required hospitalization.

Influenza season typically runs from October through May, often peaking in February.

Early estimates suggest this year’s flu vaccine may have had only 10 percent effectiveness in Australia, which experienced a record-high number of flu cases and deaths this year, according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine. The vaccine has the same formulation as the one in the United States.

Although the flu vaccine is usually 40 percent to 60 percent effective, local doctors said the Australian example should not dissuade people from being vaccinated in this country.

With Newsday staff reports


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