Last influenza season, more than one third of children most vulnerable to the flu — those under five years of age — were not vaccinated; there were six influenza-associated pediatric deaths in New York City
Black New Yorkers aged 65 and older are less likely to get a flu shot than their White, Latino and Asian counterparts
October 10, 2017 — At the start of the 2017-2018 flu season, the Health Department today announced new flu vaccination data. Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory viral illness that can cause significant illness and death. More New Yorkers die from influenza and pneumonia than from any other infection. In 2015, 2,094 New Yorkers died from influenza and pneumonia, which is a common complication of influenza. About 90 percent of influenza-related deaths are among people aged 65 years and older. For the 2016-17 influenza season, there were 106 influenza-associated pediatric deaths nationally, including six influenza-associated pediatric deaths in New York City.
Influenza activity is usually at its peak from January through March, but it can start as early as November and continue through late spring. It is important to get vaccinated now, before influenza season starts. The Health Department also launched a public awareness campaign, “I Got My Flu Shot…Not the Flu,” reminding New Yorkers that the flu vaccine is the best protection against influenza and its terrible symptoms. The campaign features seven English and three Spanish ads, which will run in subway cars and on social media, as well as a video ad campaign available here.
“The flu shot is your best chance at avoiding influenza,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “Catching the flu is extremely unpleasant for everyone, but it can be very dangerous for certain groups, including children under five, pregnant women, people with diabetes or lung disease, and people over 50. Don’t wait — get your flu shot today.”
Disparities in influenza vaccination
Vaccination coverage disparities persist between Black and White New Yorkers 65 years and older; 50 percent for Black adults compared to 69 percent for White adults in 2016.
Influenza vaccination among children and adults
In 2016, younger adults continued to get vaccinated at lower rates: 35 percent for people aged 18-49 years, 48 percent for people aged 50-64 years, and 64 percent for people aged 65 years and older.
Influenza vaccination coverage for all children in New York City remains below the national coverage goal of 70 percent. More than one third of the children most vulnerable to influenza infection, those under five years of age, were not vaccinated against influenza last season. For the 2016-17 season, flu vaccination coverage rates for children with at least one dose was: 61 percent for children 6-59 months old, 49 percent for children aged 5-8 years, and 37 percent for youth aged 9-18 years.
“Getting the flu is not only extremely uncomfortable, it can also cost you your life if you are particularly at risk,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “I join the Department of Health in urging New Yorkers to protect themselves by getting a flu shot today. Not only will a simple vaccine help keep you healthy, it can also prevent it from spreading to your family, friends and neighbors.”
"Vaccination solves problems before they happen, and the more we can encourage New Yorkers to get flu vaccinations, the better," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "Influenza is a serious, virulent illness and just because it's commonplace doesn't mean we can forget how dangerous it is. I join the Department of Health in encouraging New Yorkers to help fight the spread of the flu this year by getting vaccinated."
Groups at risk and recommendations
While annual flu vaccination is recommended for all people aged six months and older, it is especially recommended for those at risk of developing influenza-related complications. Those at risk include: children under five, pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease and those over 65 years of age. Health care workers and people who live or work with people at high risk of influenza complications also need a flu vaccine to avoid infecting others.
The flu vaccine can help prevent the pain and misery of influenza. Flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalizations among several high-risk groups, including people with diabetes, chronic lung disease and those over 50 years of age. Pregnant women have a four-fold higher risk of being hospitalized if they get the flu. A flu vaccine can protect them and their infant by passing on protective antibodies to their infants until they can get their own vaccine at six months.
To get your flu vaccine, check with your child’s or your medical care provider. Adults (18 years and older) can go to a chain pharmacy or the many independent pharmacies that offer flu vaccine throughout the city. For more information about where to get vaccinated, call 311, visit nyc.gov/flu for the Flu Vaccine Locator or text “flu” to 877877.
MEDIA CONTACT: (347) 396-4177
Christopher Miller/Stephanie Buhle: PressOffice@health.nyc.gov