As of Saturday, an NY public health emergency action says pharmacists in New York can administer flu vaccinations to children aged six months and older in order to help combat the worst flu season since 2009, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Typically, pharmacists can't administer a flu vaccine to anyone under the age of 18 in the Big Apple, but a 55-percent increase in flu cases this year has prompted the governor to take drastic action. In his effort to stop the spread of the contagious viruses that has more than tripled the number of cases dealt with last year (4,404 versus 19,128), Cuomo is trying to give New York residents more access to the vaccines that can help.
In addition, twice as many people have been hospitalized this year (2,884) versus the number hospitalized due to the flu last year (1,169), so inoculating those who haven't gotten the flu yet might help keep that number from rising.
Almost as important as the NY public health emergency ruling, however, is the continuing need to educate the public that those who have the flu should stay home and stop spreading the germs to others. NBC NewYork reports that "an uncovered sneeze in a crowded subway car or a sick colleague who refuses to stay home from work can spread the illness quickly."
So stop it. Be considerate of others and stay home and really get well.
Sometimes, however, the spread of the flu boils down to the fact that some people just don't correctly understand when they are contagious and when they aren't. They don't want to be insensitive, but they are just ignorant of the facts. For example, Dr. Ken Steier, a lung specialist, says that "it's still possible to pass it [the flu] along for up to 14 days," after the worst of the illness is over. So some people attempt to go back to work, thinking that because they feel better than they are no longer a risk to others.
Likewise, a person can take up to seven days to develop the symptoms after they've been exposed to someone with the flu virus, so when they don't get sick right away from that returning co-worker they think all is well. Wrong again.
Once it is determined that the illness contracted is the flu, then stay home and get well. Don't infect others. Those who go back to work too soon and give their flu to a co-worker could find it is given right back to them later if everyone keeps returning to the office before they are well. Right?
(Flu photo credit: Jason Rogers, Wikimedia Commons)