NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York City on reported its first flu-related death of the season Thursday, and the health department urged everyone over 6 months of age to get a flu shot.
Acting New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot did not release details other than to say the victim was a child. She noted that the death happened despite the flu accounting for just 2 percent of all hospital visits in the city.
Dr. Barbot noted that each year, between zero and eight children die in New York City from the flu.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were approximately 80,000 deaths and 900,000 hospitalizations from influenza in the United States last year. In addition, 183 children died from influenza-related diseases, and five of those children were from New York City.
Dr. Barbot said less than half of Queens residents get the flu vaccine, which s one statistic she would like to change. State Senator Leroy Comrie received his flu shot during the news conference.
"Every year, the flu affects thousands and thousands of New Yorkers, sending patients to the hospital and even claiming lives," Comrie said. "I am getting my flu shot to show folks that this vaccine is safe, effective, and critical to our health and that of our friends and family this flu season. I encourage residents of the 14th Senate District and all New Yorkers to do the same."
Residents can learn more about how to get a free or low-cost flu shot by calling 311 or you can use the NYC Health Map online to find a location.
You can also text "flu" to 877877 to find a location.
From the CDC: Preventing the Flu - Good Health Habits Can Help Stop Germs
The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu.
There also are flu antiviral drugs that can be used to treat and prevent flu. The tips and resources below will help you learn about steps you can take to protect yourself and others from flu and help stop the spread of germs.
1. Avoid close contact
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
2. Stay home when you are sick
If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.
3. Cover your mouth and nose
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Flu and other serious respiratory illnesses, like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), whooping cough, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), are spread by cough, sneezing, or unclean hands.
4. Clean your hands
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.
6. Practice other good health habits.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
For more tips visit CDC.gov/flu/protect/habits/index.htm.