Americans are grappling with what health officials are referring to as “the worst flu season in nearly a decade.” This year’s flu pandemic is being compared to the intensity of the 2009 swine flu-and is still growing worse.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimated the numbers of the 2014-2015 flu season; 34 million Americans got the flu, 710,000 people were hospitalized, and 56,000 people died.
According to The New York Times, the C.D.C. believes that this year’s flu season is on track to “equal or surpass that of the 2014-2015 flu season.”
According to the New York State Department of Health, there were 7,779 confirmed influenza cases and 1,759 people hospitalized in New York. These are the highest weekly numbers since the state began reporting such information in 2004.
In New York City alone, 3,015 people have been hospitalized since the beginning of the flu season in October. Emergency rooms are overcrowded, demanding hospitals to hire more staff and divert ambulances, according to The New York Times.
However, this year the flu hit Central New York the hardest, syracuse.com reports. “The region reported more than 25 laboratory-confirmed cases per 100,000 people in the week that ended Dec. 30, a significantly higher rate than other parts of the state, according to the state Health Department,” the website reads.
The government recommends that anyone over the age of six months should get a flu vaccination. New York City officials are struggling with convincing people to get flu shots; in 2016, less than half of New York City adults said they received a flu shot. Officials warn of the danger of this.
“There’s a mythology that is so ingrained in the system that people can’t be reasoned with sometimes,” said Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, the deputy commissioner for the division of disease control at the Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, to The New York Times.
Government officials are taking action, though. On Jan. 25, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order which allows pharmacists to administer flu vaccinations to children between the ages of 2 and 18; this increases the availability and convenience of vaccinations for younger New Yorkers.
Sen. Chuck Schumer also called on the federal government to create a “domestic flu surveillance team,” at a news conference on Sunday. He called for the team to collect data and better target the flu within New York State.
“It’a like when we have a law enforcement problem, we call our feds to beef it up and help our local police,” Schumer said. “Well, we have a health problem and I’m calling on the feds to come in and beef up our local health care system.”
The SUNY New Paltz Health Center has some advice for recognizing the symptoms of flu, and subsequently treating the virus.
“Symptoms of flu: Fever of 100.5 to 105 degrees, fatigue, headaches, body-aches, dry cough, sore throat, chills,” the Health Center’s website lists. “Stay in your room or go home for the first five days of your illness (this is when you are contagious), have a friend obtain food for you from the dining hall with sick tray forms (download forms from Residence Life website), and be careful coughing around others.”
The site recommends to go to the health center if you have, “a fever greater than 101.5 degrees, “are very fatigued,” or if you are “not coping well with symptoms.”
The Health Center also recommends notifying your professors so that the Health Center can excuse absences, increasing fluid intake, and keeping yourself well-fed, even if you are not hungry.
The SUNY New Paltz health center is offering flu vaccinations free of cost. An appointment can be made through contacting (845)-257-3400, visiting the health center, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.