On February 5, the City confirmed two influenza-related pediatric deaths; the flu shot remains the best way to protect against the influenza virus and its severe symptoms and complications; those with flu-like symptoms should see their medical provider immediately; vaccine is widely available; to find a vaccine, New Yorkers can call 311, visit nyc.gov/flu for the Flu Vaccine Locator or text “flu” to 877877
As influenza continues to spread across New York City, Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett and Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas reminded New Yorkers that they can limit the spread of influenza by seeking care from a medical professional and staying home from work if they are sick. Thanks to NYC’s Paid Sick Leave Law, New Yorkers have the right to stay home and care for themselves or their family, regardless of immigration status. They also reminded New Yorkers that there is still time to get a flu shot. A flu shot, administered even after influenza season has arrived, can still provide immunity and mitigate the symptoms and complications should one contract the virus. The vaccine remains readily available; to find a vaccine, New Yorkers can call 311, visit nyc.gov/flu for the Flu Vaccine Locator or text “flu” to 877877.
“This administration has made it easier for New Yorkers to stay home and care for themselves and their loved ones should they get the flu,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio. “We strongly encourage all New Yorkers to look out for their neighbor by taking charge of their health, getting their flu shots and making use of the NYC’s comprehensive paid sick leave to ensure that our City can be strong and healthy all winter long.”
“If you are sick with the flu, avoid contact with others and stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “The flu shot is the safest and most effective way to protect yourself and your neighbors against the influenza virus. The vaccine remains readily available at doctor’s offices and pharmacies. To prevent the spread of the virus, New Yorkers should cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when they cough or sneeze, and clean their hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.”
“New Yorkers don’t have to choose between their paycheck and caring for themselves or their loved ones if they have the flu—they have the right to sick leave,” said DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “Don’t spread the flu, stay home and get better. I’d also like to remind businesses that they legally have to provide sick leave. Workers whose employers don’t provide sick leave, or employers with questions about how to comply should contact us by calling 311 or visit nyc.gov/PaidSickLeave.”
Yesterday, the Health Department also confirmed the first two pediatric deaths of this flu season. Every year, more New Yorkers die from influenza and pneumonia than from any other infection. In 2015, 2,094 New Yorkers died from influenza and pneumonia, which is a common complication of influenza. About 90 percent of influenza-related deaths are among people aged 65 years and older. For the 2016-17 influenza season, there were 106 influenza-associated pediatric deaths nationally, including six influenza-associated pediatric deaths in New York City.
“This year’s flu season has severely impacted New Yorkers, sending thousands to the hospital and tragically claiming the life of two children. I strong encourage New Yorkers to use the resources at their disposal to protect themselves and our community from this highly contagious and debilitating virus. Whether that means getting vaccinated to prevent getting sick or exercising your rights under the NYC Paid Sick Leave Law to fully recuperate at home before going back to work, we can each play a role in helping prevent the spread of this virus,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera.
“With flu cases on the rise in New York, you should take extra precautions and stay home if you are not feeling well or if a family member is not well. If you need to care for a family member, thanks to the City’s Paid Sick Leave Law, your rights are protected, and you also protect the health of others,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Health.
Under the NYC Paid Sick Leave Law, employers with five or more employees who are hired to work more than 80 hours per calendar year in New York City must provide paid sick leave. Employers with fewer than five employees must provide unpaid sick leave. Accrual begins on employee’s first day of employment and employees can begin using accrued leave 120 days after. On the first day of employment, employers must provide the Notice of Employee Rights in English and, if available on the DCA website, their primary language. Domestic workers who have worked for their employer for more than one year must be provided two days of paid sick leave, which is in addition to the three days of paid rest under the New York State Labor Law. For those employers who do not frontload sick leave on the first day of a new calendar year, you must carryover up to 40 hours of unused sick leave from one calendar year to the new calendar year. Additionally, you must allow an employee to accrue one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 accrued hours in a calendar year.
Employers and employees can visit nyc.gov/PaidSickLeave or call 311 (212-NEW-YORK outside New York City) for more information; the required Notice of Employee Rights; one-page overviews for employers and employees; FAQs; DCA’s paid sick leave training presentation; and the complaint form. DCA also developed tools to help employers keep track of employees’ hours worked and sick leave used as well as model forms for verification of authorized sick time used, intention to use sick time and request to make up missed work as an alternative to using sick time.
In October, the Health Department launched a citywide awareness campaign, “I Got My Flu Shot…Not the Flu,” reminding New Yorkers that the flu vaccine is the best protection against influenza and its terrible symptoms.
While annual flu vaccination is recommended for all people aged six months and older, it is especially recommended for those at risk of developing influenza-related complications. Those at risk include: children under 5, pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart or lung disease, and those over 65 years of age. Health care workers and people who live or work with people at high risk of influenza complications also need a flu vaccine to avoid infecting others.
The flu vaccine can help prevent the pain and misery of influenza. It has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalizations among several high-risk groups, including people with diabetes, chronic lung disease and those over 50 years of age and to reduce pediatric influenza-related deaths. Pregnant women have a four-fold higher risk of being hospitalized if they get influenza. A flu vaccine can protect them and their infant by passing on protective antibodies to their infants until they can get their own vaccine at six months.
Tips for parents:
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
Wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
If you or your child is sick with influenza, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them and seek care. There are antiviral drugs that a health care worker can prescribe that can treat influenza, reducing the time that you are ill and preventing some of the more serious complications of this infection.
If your child is at high risk for influenza complications, you should speak to your medical provider about antiviral medication if they develop influenza-like symptoms.
If a child has a condition like asthma, call a doctor if they show influenza-like symptoms.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities.
The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) protects and enhances the daily economic lives of New Yorkers to create thriving communities. DCA licenses more than 81,000 businesses in more than 50 industries and enforces key consumer protection, licensing, and workplace laws that apply to countless more. By supporting businesses through equitable enforcement and access to resources and, by helping to resolve complaints, DCA protects the marketplace from predatory practices and strives to create a culture of compliance. Through its community outreach and the work of its offices of Financial Empowerment and Labor Policy & Standards, DCA empowers consumers and working families by providing the tools and resources they need to be educated consumers and to achieve financial health and work-life balance. DCA also conducts research and advocates for public policy that furthers its work to support New York City’s communities. For more information about DCA and its work, call 311 or visit DCA at nyc.gov/dca or on its social media sites, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.