Smith said children and adults older than 65 should get their flu shot because the virus can easily turn into something worse for them. According to Bloomberg, the recent flu outbreak is the most widespread since the CDC began collecting data more than a decade ago.
But Maine CDC epidemiologist Sara Robinson says that number is likely a little low. "The average age of death of the other34 people who died as a result of the flu is 75 years of age".
Although influenza vaccine effectiveness can range widely from season to season, influenza vaccination is the most effective now available method to prevent influenza and its complications.
People at risk for complications from the flu have chronic conditions, are pregnant, or are very young or very old.
It's far from too late to get the flu shot. Symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Overall, more than 1,300 have been tested for the flu given their symptoms.
"Hopefully we're at the peak now, but until we see it go down for a couple of weeks we won't know that we have reached peak yet", said Lynnette Brammer, head of the CDC's Domestic Flu Surveillance team.
The Health Department is stressing for all of us to wash our hands, clean high-touch areas, cover coughs, and stay home if we're feeling sick.
The flu sweeping the country now may also not be the only one this winter. One California hospital has been forced to set up a triage tent outside an emergency room in order to handle flu patients, and recently a Texas school district had to cancel classes for a week due to the epidemic. "So that's a really good reason to come in and get your flu shot", advised Infectious Disease Specialist Pam Whitney.
Young children and the elderly are at the highest risk of dying from the virus.
The CDC notes that this year's vaccine is only expected to be about 32 percent effective because H3N2 tends to mutate. You can also keep a "social distance" from people if you feel like you might be getting sick. If diagnosed with the flu, stay home until the fever has been gone for 24 hours without taking a fever-reducing medicine. "I am directing the Department of Health to work with local providers to help protect our communities from this flu outbreak, and I urge all New Yorkers to visit local health centers and get vaccinated as soon as possible".