ALBANY, NY (WKBW) - Governor Andrew Cuomo is advancing a 30-day budget amendment to encourage pharmacies to enroll in the state's Vaccines for Children Program.
"As flu diagnoses continue to grow, we must do everything we can to ensure all New Yorkers have access to the flu vaccine to protect them now and in the future," Governor Cuomo said. "I urge all New Yorkers to protect themselves and their families, get a flu shot and join us in stamping out the spread of this dangerous virus."
Since the Governor signed the executive order on January 25, 2018, more than 6,300 New Yorkers ages 2 to 18 have been vaccinated at pharmacies. The legislation encourages vaccination and helps protect children who are traditionally among the populations most vulnerable to influenza. There have been four pediatric influenza deaths this flu season, with a fifth pediatric death currently under investigation, and 8,317 children under the age of five have been diagnosed with lab confirmed influenza and 731 have been hospitalized. Parents and guardians with children between the ages of 6 months and 24 months are still encouraged to see their primary care provider for the vaccination.
A child is eligible for a Vaccines for Children Program vaccine if he or she is younger than 19 years of age and meets any of the following criteria:
• Uninsured (do not have health insurance),
• Underinsured (have commercial health insurance but the insurance does not cover the flu vaccine, or the insurance caps coverage at a certain amount or number of visits),
• Native American or Alaska Native,
• Medicaid-enrolled or Medicaid-eligible, or
• Enrolled in Child Health Plus.
New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "After the Governor signed the executive order allowing pharmacists to administer the flu vaccine to children, we've seen an increase in the number of families taking advantage of this initiative and it makes perfect sense make this permanent. The flu continues to be widespread in our state and if you haven't yet been vaccinated, get vaccinated soon as possible."
For the last nine weeks, influenza has been geographically widespread across New York. As of February 3rd, 52,567 laboratory confirmed cases of influenza have been reported, 11,802 people have been hospitalized with influenza in New York State this season.
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