Governor David A. Paterson today announced that New York is undertaking special efforts to vaccinate college students in the State against the H1N1 flu virus. New data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that of the populations at highest risk to get the H1N1 flu, 18- to 24-year-olds have the lowest rate of vaccination.
“Many of our 18- to 24-year-olds have not been vaccinated because they are away from home attending college,” Governor Paterson said. “The State Health Department has contacted every college in the State outside New York City to take vaccine orders so that college health clinics can vaccinate their students before the winter break begins. Other students might choose to see their family physicians during their vacations. We hope that by helping colleges offer vaccination clinics, we can prevent further spread of H1N1 flu.”
State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., noted that while H1N1 flu activity is slightly decreasing, it remains high in New York and should not deter people from seeking flu shots.
“The nation as a whole is experiencing a slight decrease in H1N1 flu activity,” Commissioner Daines said. “But New York is still experiencing widespread H1N1 flu activity, just slightly decreased compared with last week. Flu activity continues to be much greater than usual for this time of year.”
With flu activity decreasing and vaccine availability increasing, a window of opportunity has opened to protect more people against the flu through vaccination before flu activity picks up again.
“Influenza is very unpredictable and we don’t know what will happen in the future, but we need to be prepared for another possible wave of H1N1 flu this winter or next spring,” Commissioner Daines added. “Previous flu pandemics have been characterized by several waves of disease over the course of several months.”
Including an order of 548,200 doses of vaccine submitted to the CDC this week, the State Department of Health (DOH) to date has ordered nearly 2.5 million doses of vaccine for all providers outside of New York City – the maximum made available by CDC for areas outside of New York City. DOH continues to receive vaccine orders from health care providers outside New York City and more orders are placed daily. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene coordinates vaccine distribution in New York City. Statewide, more than 3.6 million doses have been delivered since the CDC began shipping vaccine in October.
“Demand for H1N1 vaccine remains high in New York, and the CDC is projecting further, larger shipments for the remaining weeks in December,” Governor Paterson concluded. “County health departments and other health care providers are trying to meet that demand by scheduling H1N1 flu vaccination clinics and appointments as vaccine becomes available to them.”
From the beginning of vaccine availability in October through the third week of December, county health departments, outside of New York City, will have conducted over 250 mass vaccination clinics, providing nearly 80,000 doses of H1N1 vaccine to New Yorkers. Thousands more doses have been administered by private physicians, community health centers, hospitals and other providers.
The clinics are targeted to individuals in priority groups established by CDC, including:
Currently, more than 5,000 health care providers outside New York City have registered to receive vaccine. DOH orders vaccine for registered providers who request shipments. Vaccine is allocated as soon as it is made available by CDC.
To date, 43 confirmed H1N1 deaths have been reported in the counties outside of New York City since September 1, and several other deaths are under investigation.
Additional information about H1N1 flu, including a flu vaccine clinic locator, is available at http://www.nyhealth.gov/fluclinics.