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Flu outbreak grips nation

As if the flu wasn’t bad enough.  Now doctors say two other viruses are piling on making this one of the sickest winter seasons they’ve ever seen.  And it could get worse before it gets better.

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There’s no question about it. The flu outbreak is of epidemic proportions.  It has spread fiercely across the country, with 41 states reporting widespread outbreaks. the season started earlier and is more severe than last year.  In Manhattan alone there were only five cases reported at this time last year.  This year there are well over 2,000.  If you’ve already got the flu, what can you do about and if you don’t have it yet, is it too late to get a flu shot?

Watch this special segment on PIX11 News Closeup with Marvin Scott for the answers. And tune in (or set your DVR) for the whole show, Sunday morning at 6 a.m. on PIX11.

 

In the middle of a huge flu outbreak, the FDA has approved a new vaccine that’s safe for adults with egg allergies.

“Flu Blok” isn’t made from eggs.  It’s made using insect cells.

The new flu vaccine contains no preservatives and no mercury.

NEW YORK (PIX11) - If you are hoping to get a flu shot, you may have to do some searching. Some pharmacies have reported an increased demand for the flu vaccine and they have run out. They have to wait for new shipments before administering the vaccine to anxious New Yorkers.

“I have friends who have never gotten one before and they are asking me, should I be getting it? They’ve never gotten one in their life,” said nurse Andrea Lundy. “I would get it, you are being exposed to tons of people everyday.”

The Centers for Disease Control has reported that finding the vaccine may be hard in some areas. There are localized shortages in hard hit areas. The CDC recommended people look for the vaccine at area pharmacies, health centers and doctors.

“We are experiencing the worst flu season since at least 2009, and influenza activity in New York State is widespread, with cases reported in all 57 counties and all five boroughs of New York City,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo Saturday.

Cuomo declared a state public health emergency, allowing pharmacists to administer the flu vaccine to patients between 6 months and 18-years-old. Usually, pharmacists can only give it to adults.

The state requested that people with mild flu-like symptoms stay home, unless a doctor advises them to go to the hospital. Emergency rooms have been flooded with flu cases.

To find a flu vaccine near you, log onto http://flushot.healthmap.org or call 1-800-522-5006

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.

Several areas have become "hotspots" reporting several cases of the flu.

Several areas have become “hotspots” reporting several cases of the flu.

“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 wants tp pass a bill offering paid sick days to discourage people from going to work while sick.

Public Advocate Bill De Blasio wants to pass a bill offering paid sick days to discourage people from going to work while sick.

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.

Arnette Scott is afraid she will have to take a hit in pay, if she or her daughter come down with the flu.

Arnette Scott is afraid she will have to take a hit in pay, if she, or her daughter, come down with the flu.

A 22-year-old Ohio woman has died after being hospitalized for the flu.

Amelia Perry had no pre-existing medical conditions and no tendency to get sick easily.

Before her family knew it, the flu turned to double pneumonia and a staph infection.

She was dead by Tuesday afternoon

A 22-year-old Ohio woman has died after being hospitalized for the flu.

Amelia Perry had no pre-existing medical conditions and no tendency to get sick easily.

Before her family knew it, the flu turned to double pneumonia and a staff infection.

She was dead by Tuesday afternoon.

Perry was one of nearly 700 people hospitalized in Ohio for the flu in the first week of this year.

 

 

As if the flu wasn’t bad enough.  Now doctors say two other viruses are piling on making this one of the sickest winter seasons they’ve ever seen.  And it could get worse before it gets better.

At Winthrop Hospital, doctors say the emergency room is overflowing with patients suffering from a number of symptoms.

“Hospitals are filled and when the hospitals are filled, sick patients in the emergency department can’t be moved up to beds,” said Dr. Barry Rosenthal of Winthrop Department of Emergency Medicine

Rosenthal says two viruses are combining with the flu to form a triple-threat… putting every healthy person at risk.

“We have the influenza.  We have the upper respiratory infection which is caused by a rhino-virus and then there’s also a stomach bug out there caused by another virus.”

Making matters worse- experts are calling this flu season one of the most aggressive they’ve seen in years.

The Center For Disease Control says, the flu is now widespread in 47 states. 20 children have already died from the virus.

In New York alone, there have been more than 15,000 reported cases.  That’s already more than three times the total number of flu cases reported last year.
sick.

And with the epidemic growing many procrastinators have been rushing to get their flu shot.

So far the government has handed out more than 130-million doses…making it difficult to find in certain areas.

The Health Map Vaccine Finder is supposed to show what places still have the vaccine.

We tried to use the website to find the flu shot in our area. PIX11  finally found the vaccine at Franwin Pharmacy in Mineloa, along with enough cold and flu medicine to last for weeks.

But owner Allen Sankovich says he can’t believe how much demand for the vaccine has increased.

“Some of the bigger stores have run out of it and one of the smaller pharmacies like this one still have it.  It’s kind of funny,” Sankovich said.

Still, Sankovich reminds people the vaccine is not 100-percent effective.

And as PIX11′s Dr. Steve Salvatore reminds us, once you get the shot you’ll still be vulnerable for a few days.

“Even if you get vaccinated today, you’re not going to be protected for at least two weeks,” Salvatore said.

Dr. Tamara Kuittinen of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital talks about why the flu is so bad this year, whether it will get worse, and who should get a flu shot.

A hospital in Philadelphia has set up a tent to deal with the high number of flu victims arriving for treatment.

Hospital officials say the move comes on the heels of an especially bad flu season, and the more infected people can be quarantined, the better.

According to the State Department of Health, four people have already died from the virus and 41 states are reporting outbreaks.

There are growing fears about this year’s flu season.  The CDC declares this is one of the most dangerous in the past few years.

But which strand is the one you need to look out for?

Hilary Whittier talked with Dr. Steve Salvatore about the virus that’s taking over.

 

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