If you have been procrastinating getting your flu shot - it's time to get it off of your 'to-do' list.
Flu statistics are watched closely at this time of year, and the last few weeks of data have shown a notable increase in the number of flu cases. More, experts predict that flu activity will be increasing in the near future - specifically over the next several weeks.
The Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report from the NY State Department of Health says that last week (ending December 24th) was the worst week to date and it was also the first week that widespread activity was reported.
During that week, there was a 143% increase in the number of laboratory confirmed influenza reports (1,460 for the week) and there have been 658 flu-related hospitalizations in New York (the average season brings 9,800.) There are now confirmed cases in 39 counties (including all boroughs of New York City.)
Just last week, New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker made the declaration that influenza is now 'prevalent' in New York State. This means, among other things, that health care workers who are not vaccinated must wear a surgical mask in areas with patients.
Thankfully, there have been no pediatric deaths as of yet (the average season brings 17.)
That being said, the peak of flu season is still weeks away - with the number of cases likely to peak in February. And, in contrast to other years, there is still plenty of vaccine available (the nasal vaccine is still not recommended.)
The cost is not a good excuse for not getting the flu shot, as health insurance normally covers flu vaccines and there are even some health departments and clinics that give it out at a reduced (or even free) cost.
So, for everyone out there who is over six months of age - there is no time like the present. And, if you don't think that getting the flu shot is important - you cannot say that we didn't warn you.
For additional information about influenza and a weekly tally of cases, please visit: