Governor Paterson Announces Hospitals Will Again Offer Flu Vaccine to Newborns' Caregivers and Older Patients
Requirement Reinstated; New Radio and TV Ads Urge Vaccination
ALBANY, NY (01/15/2010)(readMedia)-- Governor David A. Paterson today announced that the State Department of Health (DOH) is reinstating the requirement that hospitals offer the H1N1 flu vaccine to the caregivers of newborns in intensive care and hospital patients who are 65 years of age or older. The reinstated requirement was made possible by increased supplies of vaccine.
"Complacency is the flu's best friend and our worst enemy," Governor Paterson said. "If people do not act now to get vaccinated, a third wave of this dangerous virus becomes more likely. There is plenty of H1N1 flu vaccine available from health care providers, county health departments, pharmacies and pharmacies-within-supermarkets, and I encourage all New Yorkers to take the opportunity to get vaccinated."
While flu activity is not as prevalent now as it was in November, it is still active regionally throughout the State. In November, when the H1N1 and seasonal vaccines were in short supply, State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., exercised his statutory authority to waive the requirements that hospitals offer vaccinations against influenza to parents and other caregivers of newborns being treated in neonatal intensive care units and to all people 65 and older who have been admitted for inpatient care.
Commissioner Daines said: "There is enough H1N1 vaccine available to the general public to give effect to the requirements of Public Health Law Section 2805-h, which was signed by Governor Paterson last July and provides protection to newborns in intensive care by requiring flu vaccination for their caregivers. Similarly, while older adults are not as likely as younger people to come down with H1N1 flu, the flu can cause life-threatening complications. Because a sufficient supply of vaccine is now available, it is appropriate to reinstate the requirement that hospitals offer the H1N1 vaccine to newly admitted patients age 65 and older."
During National Influenza Vaccination Week, which ends tomorrow, U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has warned that H1N1 flu is still causing illness, hospitalizations and deaths in the United States.
Dr. Daines noted that during the 1957-58 flu epidemic flu cases peaked in the fall, just as in 2009, but that another wave of flu came in February and March 1958. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is encouraging Americans to continue to seek out vaccination to help prevent another wave of flu cases. Since H1N1 flu first surfaced in April 2009, there have been an estimated 10,000 deaths nationwide, with 87 reported deaths in New York State outside New York City, including 25 children younger than 18. Hospitalizations for flu remain steady at 126 patients in New York outside New York City.
DOH reports that 872,000 doses of flu vaccine were distributed this week, including 500 from DOH's storage depot. DOH is collecting and redistributing 50,000 doses of vaccine from providers who no longer need supplies to redistribute to other areas of the State where demand is still high and supply has not kept up.
DOH has allocated more than 5.9 million doses of the vaccine for New York State outside of New York City, the maximum made available by CDC.
Additionally, new 30-second public service announcements urging vaccination are starting to air on New York radio and television stations. The ads will be posted on DOH's website at www.nyhealth.gov.
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