Flu Now ‘Prevalent’ In New York

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ROCHESTER, NY (WXXI) – The annual declaration from health authorities that the flu is prevalent in New York state kicked off a series of rules for hospitals and nursing homes.

People who work in health care and are not vaccinated now need to wear surgical masks around patients.

Also, hospitals and nursing homes need to keep track of the number of workers who are unvaccinated and report that data to state authorities.

Last year, every local hospital had employee vaccination rates near 90%.

Vaccination rates at nursing homes were more variable. Two local homes reported to the state that less than half their staff was vaccinated. Neither home immediately responded to phone calls from WXXI News.

“Getting vaccinated remains the best way for all New Yorkers to protect against the flu, and it is vital for caregivers who come in contact with patients to get vaccinated to help prevent the spread of flu,” state health commissioner Howard Zucker said in his announcement of the flu’s prevalence.

Monroe County’s flu season began early this year. A child under the age of 4 died in October.

That remains the only reported death from the flu in the county this season, and the only pediatric death in the state.

In total, 10 people have been hospitalized with the virus in Monroe County, according to the latest data from the public health department.

Health officials continued to encourage people to get vaccinated. It’s not too late, the state health department said, and it’s “the most effective way to protect public health.”