New Yorkers are urged to get flu shot as influenza cases spike

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As flu activity increases around the country, cases of influenza in New York have spiked in the last week, according to the governor's office. New cases of influenza were reported in 58 out of New York's 62 counties.

"We strongly encourage anyone who has not yet gotten the flu vaccine to get one immediately to combat this significant threat to public health," Dr. Howard Zucker, the state's health commissioner, said in a statement. "Getting vaccinated protects you as well as the people around you, including those who are more vulnerable, like babies and young children, elderly people and people with chronic health conditions."

Health officials recommend that everyone 6 months or older get the shot and strongly advise the vaccination for people older than 65.

"Generally, the highest hospitalization rates are for people over 65 and this year so far, the highest hospitalization rates are for children under 5," Dr. Kerry Fierstein, the CEO of Allied Physicians Group, said. "The flu hits you immediately like a ton of bricks. Achiness, cough, high fever it's not like 'Gee, I wonder if I have the flu.' When you do you know it."

One of the deadliest influenza years for children was 2017 when 80 percent of the children who died of flu complications hadn't been vaccinated.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is urging New Yorkers to get the flu shot as soon as possible ahead of the flu season's peak. Earlier this year, Cuomo signed an executive order allows pharmacists to administer flu vaccines to children from 2 to 18. That order is now codified into law.

If you come down with flu symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you start taking an antiviral drug, such as Tamiflu, within two days.