If you have flu-like symptoms, stay home and take care of yourself.
That’s the message city health officials gave on Tuesday in Long Island City a day after two influenza-related pediatric deaths occurred in the city. This included an 8-year-old resident of LeFrak City in Corona, who came down with the flu and died on Monday shortly after being hospitalized for breathing difficulties.
Influenza infects thousands of Americans every year, but this particular flu season has been particularly severe. While stressing that getting a flu vaccine is the best defense against the potentially deadly virus, Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett warned that anyone who becomes sick should stay at home from work or school, and take steps to protect others from becoming infected.
“If you are sick with the flu, avoid contact with others and stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone,” Bassett said during the Feb. 6 conference at the Health Department’s offices in Long Island City. “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.”
Parents of children who contract the flu shouldn’t worry about missing time from work to take care of them, added Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio. She noted that city law requires all employers with five or more employees to provide paid sick leave to employees who work more than 80 hours for them in a calendar year. Businesses with fewer than five employees must provide unpaid sick leave.
“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,” Palacio added. “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.”
Children under five years of age as well as senior adults 65 years of age and older, and adults with chronic medical conditions, are most vulnerable to complications from the flu. Symptoms include fever, coughing, sneezing, body aches, fatigue, congestion, sweating and nausea. Seek medical attention immediately if you come down with these or other more severe symptoms.
If you or a loved one has the flu, the Health Department advises you to limit contact with others. Physicians may prescribe antiviral drugs to treat influenza, reducing the time of illness and preventing more severe complications of infection.
If you haven’t received a flu shot yet, it’s not too late to do so. Call 311, visit nyc.gov/flu or text “flu” to 877877 to find out where you can get a vaccine in your neighborhood.