DOH: Despite recent deaths, flu cases declining

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — According to the Department of Health, incidences of influenza are decreasing. This as three new deaths were reported this week.

Even though the number of flu cases has declined, sadly, we experienced three flu-associated pediatric deaths this week.

Dr. Howard Zucker, Department of Health Commissioner

Zucker said on Thursday that confirmed flu cases have gone down 17%, and hospitalizations due to the flu have gone down 23% this week. The flu was classified as “widespread” in December, and this is the first time since that the number of cases has declined.

Still, the Health Department’s “widespread” classification has remained for 12 weeks in a row. Confirmed cases in New York this season total 121,088. Last week, new reports of the flu numbered 14,270 cases, with 1,571 hospitalized.

Follow along with the New York Flu Tracker as people report new cases.

So far this season, adding the three new deaths, six kids have died from the flu. Confidentiality guidelines only let the Health Department confirm that one of the children succumbed to the flu in New York City. The other five were elsewhere in the state.

Flu activity is still widespread in New York State. People should continue to remain vigilant by getting vaccinated and take other preventive steps to avoid getting the flu.

Dr. Howard Zucker

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say they’ve determined this season’s flu vaccine 45% effective overall, and 55% effective in kids. Children under 9 who have received under two doses of flu vaccine in their lives should get two doses this season, separated by at least four weeks.

It’s not too late to get a flu shot, as the season lasts from October into May. Find out where to get a flu shot at Vaccine Finder.

Everyone over five-months-old should get vaccinated against the flu. The Health Department also recommends:

  • Wash your hands often, with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer for at least 20 seconds.
  • Do not touch your face—particularly eyes, nose, or mouth—with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Stay home if you’re sick.
  • Cough and sneeze into tissues, and then throw them away.
  • Disinfect objects and surfaces.

The most cases ever reported during flu season in New York was 128,892 for 2017 and 2018.

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