New York is experiencing a prolonged peak in flu infections this year, with about 95,000 cases reported in January alone, significantly higher than last year’s 30,000 cases for the same month. This resurgence, alongside the continuous spread of COVID-19 and RSV, has led health officials to encourage vaccinations, especially among the elderly and vulnerable populations. The unusual flu activity, coupled with low vaccine uptake, could potentially overburden healthcare systems.
Typically, flu season in New York runs from October to May. However, the pandemic has disrupted traditional patterns of viral spread, leading to erratic flu seasons. The cessation of widespread masking and social distancing, which had previously led to a dramatic reduction in flu cases, is believed to have contributed to a notable increase in flu infections last season. The current season’s activity remains elevated with weekly infections averaging around 24,000 cases since December.
Governor Kathy Hochul and State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald are strongly advocating for flu and COVID-19 vaccinations to mitigate the impact of the extended flu season. As of January 20, only about 48% of New York adults have received their flu shots, and a mere 14% have taken the updated COVID-19 vaccines. Authorities stress the importance of these vaccinations in preventing severe illness and hospitalizations, noting that they are readily available at local pharmacies and covered by insurance, including Medicaid.
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