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New York state sees worst week for influenza hospitalizations in recorded history

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Despite reports the flu shot isn't as effective this year, state health officials are urging all New Yorkers to get the flu vaccine as soon as possible.

The state has already seen 17,362 laboratory confirmed cases of influenza since the season started six weeks ago.

In just the last week, New York state saw a 54 percent increase in confirmed cases of the flu. It was the worst single week for influenza hospitalizations since the state started tracking the numbers in 2004, with a whopping 1,606 patients admitted to hospitals.

CBS 6’s Anne McCloy spoke with health officials about how to protect yourself, with 12 weeks left to go in this especially active flu season.

In the Capital Region alone, 1,094 confirmed influenza cases have been reported within the area's four major counties since the flu season began October 1, 2017.

That's compared to only 314 cases at the same time last year, according to the NYS Dept. of Health.

The sudden rise in reported flu cases over the past week prompted Governor Andrew Cuomo to call on New Yorkers to get vaccinated right away.

Brad Hutton is the NYS Dept. of Health Deputy Commissioner for Public Health.

“The flu vaccine does more than prevent infection, it also lessens the severity of illness and shortens illness,” Hutton said.

Hutton says you should get the shot despite reports that say it's only been 10% effective in treating the most prominent strain of the virus this year, known as H3N2.

Hutton says the vaccine also protects against other common forms of the flu.

“There are also two other important strains, Type B and and Type H1N1, and the protection for those are much higher,” Hutton said.

Dr. Nazia Habib of St. Peter's Health Capital District Internal Medicine says anyone feeling the onset of the flu should call their doctor right away.

“Because your doctor can give you treatment for flu, which is the Tamiflu, and it is only effective within two days of the onset of symptoms,” Habib said.

New York has already seen one pediatric death related to the flu this year.

Health officials say anyone with symptoms should stay far away from pregnant women, small children and the elderly, who are the most at risk.

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