NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- As the city awaits a COVID-19 vaccine, flu vaccinations continue to surge this season compared to last year in New York City.
1.5 million New Yorkers got their flu shot, up 33% from last year, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
New York City health officials released Tuesday additional flu vaccination data for this year's flu season, showing continued increases compared to the same time last year.
From July 1 - November 7, 2020, according to officials there was a 41% increase in the number of adults aged 19 and older who have received the vaccine compared to the same time last year -- an increase of 265,279 adults (648,123 last season to 913,402 this season), and a 23% increase for children six months to 18 years old -- an increase of 114,188 children (498,523 last season to 612,711 this season).
In total, over 1,500,000 New Yorkers have received this year's flu vaccine based on doses entered into the Citywide Immunization Registry, however, since adults are not required to be reported to the Registry like children are, likely more doses have been given than captured.
The city is on track to have a historic flu campaign this season, with more New Yorkers getting vaccinated than ever before.
Health officials recommend all New Yorkers older than six months of age should get a seasonal flu vaccine. It is especially important for adults 50 years and older, pregnant people, children six months to five-years-old, and people with underlying conditions to get vaccinated.
The Health Department recommends people 65 years and older receive one of the two vaccines for this age group (high dose or adjuvanted vaccine).
"As we await a COVID-19 vaccine, let's not forget the safe, effective, lifesaving one we already have-the flu shot," Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said. "To all the New Yorkers who have protected themselves and their loved ones, by getting vaccinated-thank you. This year's vaccination may be the most important one you ever get."
The flu vaccine is widely available for all New Yorkers. Check with your regular health care provider to see if they have flu vaccine.
Many community health centers and hospital clinics, along with all NYC Health + Hospitals clinics, provide no or low-cost flu vaccines. Flu vaccines are also widely available at chain pharmacies, like CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens and Duane Reade, and at many independent pharmacies. Pharmacists can vaccinate children as young as age two.
Check with your local pharmacy to confirm if they provide flu vaccine and the age ranges they serve. New Yorkers can use the Health Department's NYC Health Map, call 311, or text FLU to 877-877 to find a flu vaccination location. There are over 900 sites listed on Health Map which can be searched to find locations that serve people without insurance to find a free flu vaccination.
The health department also provides a list of community flu vaccination events. Flu vaccine is covered by most health insurance plans without a co-pay.
This year, New York City is supporting expanded flu vaccination activities with the Department's partners, such as NYC Health + Hospitals, community health centers, community-based organizations, urgent care centers and is offering flu vaccine at many COVID-19 testing sites. The Department has also launched a new program this year to deploy teams of community vaccinators throughout the city to meet New Yorkers' needs. Examples may include community-based testing sites, public clinics, places of worship, among others. Establishing these contracts may help when the City offers COVID-19 vaccination services once a vaccine is available.
Additionally, the Department's citywide, annual flu vaccine campaign is underway and appears on the subway, bus shelters, Staten Island Ferry, in neighborhood businesses, newspapers, television, radio, as well as digital and social media channels. Ads are running in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, and in additional languages for newspaper ads.
Flu season usually starts in the late fall and lasts throughout the spring. Since influenza activity can be unpredictable and influenza viruses can be found year-round, it is important to get the vaccine as early as possible, though it is never too late to be vaccinated.
A flu vaccine is necessary each year because the vaccine provides protection for only one season. This year's flu vaccine contains four virus strains, three of which are new this year.
Flu-like symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people, especially children, may have vomiting and diarrhea. People may also be infected with flu and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.
The steps New Yorkers take to prevent COVID-19 are also applicable to flu. Face coverings, frequent hand washing with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available, distancing and staying home if ill can prevent the spread of flu. Additional ways to reduce the spread of germs like flu:
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
- If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. After using a tissue, throw it in the trash and wash your hands.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like flu.
Find where you can get a flu vaccine from this health map.
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