Make Flu Shot Appointment, Get COVID Vaccine, NY State of Health Warns as Cases Soar – NBC New York

New York state health officials sounded a new alarm Thursday, warning that flu is already widespread across the Big Apple and saying it likely will only intensify, thanks to the compounding factor of the COVID pandemic.

That “widespread” determination comes when more than half of the state’s 62 counties report lab-confirmed cases — and New York is well above that benchmark already (71%).

Health officials say the lab-confirmed case count has been rising since September and amounted to 596 as of the week ending Oct. 1 — and case rates have been particularly pronounced in the New York City area, Capital District and Central New York.

Upstate counties account for 57% of the nearly 600 confirmed cases to date — and the statewide total is already four times what it was during the relative time period last year, an increase of almost 300%. The numbers are continuing to increase week over week, officials say — and peak flu season, typically December through February, is still ahead.

Given the dual respiratory threats of flu and COVID circulating simultaneously, state officials are urging anyone — and everyone — to get their annual flu shots. And if you haven’t gotten your latest COVID booster, get it at the same time. And the message is to get your flu shot sooner than you may otherwise.

“I urge all New Yorkers to protect themselves and their family and friends by getting a flu vaccine as soon as possible,” New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said in a statement. “With the early and aggressive spread of influenza , the annual flu shot is the most effective protection against serious illness. The COVID-19 booster can also be administered at the same time as the flu shot to further protect your health and those around you.”

The two viral infections present with similar symptoms, so it can be difficult to distinguish which you have without a diagnostic test. Symptoms range from mild to severe, including fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Vomiting and diarrhea are possible and sickness may be with or without fever.

Flu vaccines are available to people ages 6 months and older but as with COVID, seniors and people with certain chronic medical conditions, young kids and pregnant women are more vulnerable to serious or deadly complications. Find locations near you here.

New York plans to make a new seasonal dashboard live for 2022 public flu tracking purposes at the end of the month. Health officials offered some tips to avoid getting — and spreading — both viruses over these next few months.

These should sound familiar:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds to protect yourself from germs and avoid spreading them to others
  • Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to use when soap and water are not available. Choose a product with at least 60 percent alcohol
  • Don’t cough or sneeze into your hands. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth if you’re symptomatic

Thursday’s announcement comes days after the CDC issued new flu shot guidance for vulnerable populations, especially seniors. They are now advised to get an extra-strength dose. Learn more here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *