City's medical centers have tough fight against flu surge
The Big Apple's hospitals and pharmacies are putting on a full-court press to curb thet flu epidemic, but surging cases and a dwindling supply of vaccinations are making it an uphill battle.
Nearly 20,000 people in the state have experienced flu-like symptoms during this flu season, compared to the roughly 4,400 that experiencedall of last year, according to the state's health department.
Although the bug hasn't resulted in deaths or school closures, like the 2009 swine flu scare, New Yorkers say they're having trouble dealing with the aches and pains since remedies are scarce.
"I'm staying away from people who are sick," Desiree Rucker, 24, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, said.
After Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state public health emergency over the weekend, drugstores have seen long lines as more people realize it's better to be safe than sorry.
Regardless of your age or physical condition, your best bet to beat the flu is to get a shot. The ideal time to get vacinnated is the fall, and many New Yorkers who decided to finally get one this weekend were out of luck.M.
The city is experiencing spot shortages of the vaccine since the end of last week but more shipments are arriving Monday, according to a source.
Out of 24 Manhattan pharmacies calledby amNewYork Sunday, only nine said they had flu shots available.
Duane Reade didn't return messages for comment and CVS said it can handle the increased demand.
"There may be temporary shortages of the flu vaccine, but there is no overall shortage of the vaccine," CVS said in a statement.
Citywide, 5% of visits to emergency rooms and other medical centers were related to the flu as of Thursday, according to city Health Commissioner Thomas Farley.
"It might not sound like a lot, but it's much higher than normal, usually below 2%," Farley, told amNewYork on Thursday.
Farley added that there are more people who are weathering out their illness at home so the flu stats may be greater.
Diane Sixsmith, the chair of the departmentt. of emergency medicine at New York Hospital of Queens said a "perfect storm" of health factors is the cause of the epidemic.
A second influenza virus has emerged alongside the seasonal variation and warmer temperatures have led to more people experiencing flu like symptoms.
Sixsmith, who said her hospital has seen a 25% increase in emergency room patients since Christmas, said she thinks we're close to the peak of the epidemic but New Yorkers are going to have to put up with their coughs a little while longer.
"It's not going to kill people, it's not more dangerous, it's just that the symptoms are more severe," she said. (with Shelia Anne Feeney)
The best way to avoid the flu is getting a shot, which is 62% effective. But there are a few other things to keep yourself healthy this flu season, according to the New York City health department.
.-Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze.
- Use a tissue or the inside of your elbow, not your hand.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
-Don’t get too close to people who are sick.
-If you do get sick, stay away from others to avoid spreading the flu.
-Stay home from work or school until your fever has been gone for at least 24 hours, without fever-reducing medicine. (Meredith Galante)