New York Reports 5 Pediatric Flu Deaths, Sees First Dip in New Cases

Health

New York Reports 5 Pediatric Flu Deaths, Sees First Dip in New Cases

New York saw its first dip in new flu cases for the first time in weeks, a bit of good news amid the “tridemic” threat of influenza, RSV and COVID-19. Pediatric deaths, tragically, are up.

State health officials are confirming at least five pediatric deaths linked to the flu so far this season in New York’s most recent weekly flu report. New York accounts for roughly 13% of all nationwide pediatric flu deaths, according to data provided last week.

New Yorkers have been urged to get their annual flu shot, particularly those 6 months and older, in light of the rising deaths.

“The flu vaccine is a good match this year and the best way to avoid serious illness is to get vaccinated,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said. “These recommendations are simple but important ways to protect our families and our communities from serious illness this winter.”

A state dashboard tracking weekly changes in flu cases shows a four percent drop in statewide cases over the precious week, a dip mirrored across the country. Despite that dip, the state’s previous week’s worth of new cases accounts for nearly 25% of all infections reported this season.

The number of flu hospital admissions fell for the second week in a row, according to a national surveillance system run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The annual winter flu season usually doesn’t get going until December or January, but this one took off in early November. It has been complicated by the simultaneous spread of other viruses, including COVID-19 and RSV.

As holiday season gatherings among family and friends and crowded activities are underway, health officials say it is important to take safety precautions to protect against the flu. Among the recommendations is getting vaccinated and wearing a mask if you are symptomatic or if you have or around someone with a heightened risk. Those considered most vulnerable to infection include children under the age of five, pregnant women, older people and those with underlying health conditions, such as a weakened immune system, diabetes, heart and lung disease, and asthma.

In addition to getting the vaccine, health officials also recommend other preventative measures to help stop the spread of flu, COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available;
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands;
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
  • Stay home when you are sick;
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash;
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

In the face of high levels of COVID-19, flu, and RSV cases, New York City’s health officials also issued an advisory last week, strongly urging New Yorkers to use masks.

NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan says that the rise in respiratory viruses is the reason as to why the city’s health office is recommending, not only the use of masks, but also vaccinations and boosters.

“While respiratory viruses are spreading at high levels in NYC, there are common-sense ways to protect yourself and your loved ones this holiday season: vaccination, boosters, wearing a mask indoors or among crowds and staying home if you don’t feel well,” Vasan said in a tweet.

The city’s advisory recommends that everyone should wear a mask at all times while indoors, as well as in crowded outdoor settings. City officials also urge those who are sick and unable to separate from others to wear masks. Additionally, those who are COVID-19 positive should wear masks.

“Wear a high-quality mask, such as a KN95 or KF94 or an N95 respirator, for additional protection,” city health officials say.

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