Gov. Hochul gets flu shot as hospitals brace for trifecta of viruses

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Wednesday, October 26, 2022
Gov. Hochul gets flu shot as hospitals brace for trifecta of viruses
The state is warning New Yorkers that COVID-19, seasonal flu and RSV cases are rising while hospital capacity is limited in some regions. Mike Marza has the story.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Gov. Kathy Hochul got her flu shot at her office Wednesday morning and encouraged everyone in the state to do the same, amid the ongoing respiratory viral spread and expected COVID increases.

The state is closely monitoring the number of hospital beds, particularly for children upstate, that will be available during fall and winter months.

"Right now statewide pediatric beds, non ICU capacity, is 25%," Hochul said, while noting some parts of the state, like the Finger Lakes and central New York, are below 10% capacity.

Roughly 3 million flu shots have been given in New York so far as hospitals brace for a trifecta of viruses.

"We know that COVID is gonna be with us for the long term," she said. "The flu is going to continue being with us. RSV is going to pop up when you have the convergence of all three at the same time, it does create pressure on certain health care systems, but here in the state of New York, we are in a very good place. Everyone does their part, get their flu shot, make sure their children are protected, practice good hygiene. Stay safe for the winter. We're always here to help."

Right now pediatric hospital bed capacity is 23% in New York, but across the country, it's at 75%. In Texas, Tennessee, Delaware, Maine and Rhode Island, pediatric hospital beds are at more than 90% capacity.

"We have people indoors now and fewer people wearing masks, and more people going out and socializing, the rise in infections, respiratory infections, was anticipated," said New York Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett.

Most children are exposed to RSV as a child. It used to be seasonal and target mainly infants, but now kids of all ages are getting sick.

"RSV mimics in some children a routine stuffy nose cold nothing exciting in other children they often present with wheezing and some small but real amount they are hospitalized," said Dr. Sharon Nachman, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Stony Brook Children's Hospital.

"We're not seeing any real threat based on hospitalizations and deaths," said NYC Mayor Eric Adams. "We believe our health care infrastructure system, we're in a good place. we have it under control. There's no real alarms that we are seeing now but we want to continue to encourage boosters and vaccines."

Prevention is still key.

"I feel like I have to remind people that handwashing still has a place so if you're coughing and sneezing on your hands, wash your hands," Nachman said.

The flu vaccine is available to anyone 6 months or older, and strongly recommended for people with chronic diseases, young children, and individuals who are pregnant. They all have a higher risk of developing serious complications from influenza.

The Department of Health said the best defense against respiratory viruses is to receive the seasonal flu and COVID vaccines, stay up to date on COVID-19 boosters, practice social distancing, wear masks in crowded settings, and use proper hygiene, including frequent hand washing.

DOH is monitoring regional hospital capacity and engaging hospital and health care systems that may be seeing larger than normal patient volumes in their emergency departments and inpatient units.

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