These developments in this season's fight against the flu:
~Saturday morning, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a public health state of emergency in NY, due to the increasingly severe flu season. That allows pharmacists to administer the vaccine to children between 6 months and 18 years old.
~The NY State Health Department says it has 19,128 cases confirmed, compared to 4,404 in all of last year's flu season.
As of January 5, 2,884 patients are hospitalized with flu symptoms, compared to 1,169 in all of last year. Two children have died in NY state.
~Even if you get a shot, it takes up to two weeks to be fully effective.
~The Centers for Disease Control is reporting that this year's shot is only 62% effective.
~If you need to find a shot provider, http://flushot.healthmap.org/ will locate one when you input your zip code. You can also call 800 522-5006.
~Prevention strategies. Saturday morning on Weekend Today in CNY, medical researcher and SUNY Upstate Psychologist Dr. Rich O'Neill had these tips:
--Stay out of crowded areas, and stay 6 feet away from infected (that's how far sneeze and cough droplets can travel)
--Don't touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Wash hands often, for 20 seconds. Regular soap will do. Dry with a disposable towel. Use that towel, or your jacket sleeve, to exit bathroom doors.
--Clean infected surfaces, especially door handles and computer keyboards. Use soap & water, or an alcohol-based disinfectant.
--Call in sick rather than spreading your germs.
--Avoid hugging, kissing and hand-shaking. One alternative: tell people you might be sick, then give an elbow bump as an alternative.