On January 25, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order to combat the flu epidemic in New York by enabling pharmacists to administer flu vaccines to children ages two through 18. The executive order was announced in a press release that highlighted additional initiatives to mitigate the flu’s impact, including an expansion of the State’s public awareness campaign encouraging all New Yorkers to get vaccinated.

On December 13, the flu was declared prevalent in the State. Under New York State Department of Health (DOH) regulations, once that happens, all health care workers must be vaccinated or wear a surgical mask in areas where patients or residents are present. This past week saw the highest levels of laboratory-confirmed influenza cases and influenza-related hospitalizations in more than a decade. Additional information can be found in DOH’s weekly influenza activity reports.

DOH is closely monitoring the flu season’s impact on health care facilities. To review current patient capacity, and inventory levels for IV solution products and antivirals, DOH has been conducting regular surveys of hospitals and long-term care facilities, which it will continue on a weekly basis while flu levels are elevated. On January 25, DOH issued a Dear Administrator Letter (attached) with guidance on managing Emergency Department (ED) and hospital inpatient overcrowding.

On January 12, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) issued a health advisory with review recommendations for antiviral medications and influenza vaccines. It also reminded clinicians of influenza reporting requirements.

GNYHA has been in regular contact with DOH and DOHMH about the impact of elevated flu activity on the health care system, and is carefully monitoring inventory levels for classes of supplies impacted by flu.

As the flu season continues, please let us know if GNYHA staff can be of assistance. We will continue to keep you apprised of flu-related developments. Please contact Jenna Mandel-Ricci or Zeynep Sumer King  with any questions.