The flu bug has come early this season

Credit KWGS News

Credit KWGS News

Concerns have been expressed that the USA could see a hard flu season, because this year's flu season in Australia - which is typically a good measuring stick for how the season will unfold in the United States - has been particularly harsh, with more cases, hospitalizations and deaths compared with the season last year.

For additional information about influenza, including how it is monitored in New York State, visit the Department of Health web page.

Health officials said the man had multiple underlying health conditions. In addition, 2 influenza-associated pediatric deaths were noted in the new surveillance report - one that occurred in week 45 due to influenza A and one that occurred in week 47 due to influenza B. "With influenza activity on the rise, I encourage anyone who hasn't gotten a flu shot to get one to help protect themselves and their loved ones".

Tina Cass, infection control practitioner for Fairfield Medical Center, said the center has seen six flu-related hospitalizations since October this year.

Officials from both agencies are urging residents to get their annual flu shot. Likewise, the 257 hospitalizations since the recognized start of the flu season mark a significant increase over the 83 to this point a year ago. Over the last three seasons, there have been 19 pediatric flu deaths in NY and an average of 11,183 flu-related hospitalizations each season. It is not too late to get the flu vaccine.

Most health insurance plans cover influenza vaccines. Gale Burstein says it may or may not be completely effective against the flu virus variants circulating this year, but it is a lot better than no protection. Individuals and families without health insurance should check with their county health department to find out if local clinics will be held to provide free or low-priced vaccinations. While a healthy person might experience flu as an inconvenience, that same person can pass the influenza virus to a highly vulnerable person (young child, older adult, person with a chronic disease, etc.), resulting in hospitalizations for many people.

Since influenza virus can spread easily through coughing or sneezing, it is also important that family members and people in regular contact with high risk individuals get an influenza vaccine, Zucker said.

The prevalence of the flu prompted the face mask rule, which first went into effect during the 2013-14 influenza season.

Influenza is prevalent across NY, state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker announced Wednesday.

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