New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order Thursday to combat the widespread flu epidemic.
The order allows pharmacists to administer flu vaccines to children ages 2 to 18.
Over the past week, the Governor's Office reports 7,779 laboratory confirmed influenza cases across the state and 1,759 New Yorkers have been hospitalized with confirmed influenza. That is the highest weekly numbers in both categories since reporting began in 2004.
"With flu cases reaching epidemic proportions in New York, we must do everything in our power to fight this virus and keep New Yorkers safe," Governor Cuomo said. "Once again, I urge all New Yorkers to help us combat this quick-spreading strain of flu and make sure they and their loved ones are vaccinated."
The governor is also calling on the Department of Health to immediately expand the state's influenza public service advertising campaign targeting the hardest hit areas.
Subscribers to the New York State text line will receive a message encouraging them to get a vaccine and will be provided resources to find a location to receive the vaccine.
The executive order suspends a law that limits the authority of pharmacists to administer immunizing agents to anyone under the age of 18. Parents and guardians are asked to call pharmacies ahead of their visit.