Molly Gunn lives in one of the six flu hotspots in New York City and followed her mother’s advice when she called from Texas on Saturday.
“We are going to get our flu shots because our mothers are frantic,” Molly said. She and friend, Farzad, marched off to Duane Read for their vaccinations.
Hell’s Kitchen, according to the Germ Tracker web app, is the number one hotspot for the flu in New York City, followed by the Upper West Side, East Harlem, the East Village, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn and Elmhurst, Queens.
“We’re in the middle of it so there is every reason to get a flu shot now,” said Dr. Mary O’Brien of the Columbia Health System. “We have a lot of time to benefit from the shot, and there is very little in way of side effects.”
Governor Cuomo declared a state public health emergency, which allows pharmacists to administer flu shots to patients between six months and 18 years of age. But officials stress the flu shots are for everyone, not just for babies and children.
“Those over 65, pregnant women, anyone with compromised immune system,” Dr. O’Brien said. “Definitely almost everyone should be getting a flu shot.”
So far, there have been more than 19,000 cases of the flu across New York State compared to just a little more than 4,000 last year.
Public Advocate Bill De Blasio is pushing for immediate passage of a languishing bill to give paid sick leave to the one million New Yorkers who do not have it, to encourage people to stay home if they are sick with the flu.
“Speaker Quinn has chosen not to let this bill be voted on,” De Blasio said. “Mayor Bloomberg is her accomplice. And now we are paying the price as more and more people are getting sick,” the public advocate added.
Arnette Scott is one of those working single moms who worries that if her seven-year-old daughter Brielle gets the flu, she’ll have to take a hit in pay to care for her
“Unfortunately I’m forced between an option of feeding my child or caring for my child and it’s a hard, hard hard decision to make for a single parent,” Scott said.