The flu is on the rise in New York. Influenza cases rose 54 percent with 1,606 New Yorkers being hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza, the highest weekly number since Department of Health reporting began in 2004.

"New Yorkers should take steps to get vaccinated and protect themselves and their loved ones," Governor Cuomo said. "I am directing the Department of Health to work with local providers to help protect our communities from this flu outbreak, and I urge all New Yorkers to visit local health centers and get vaccinated as soon as possible."

As of January 13th, 17,362 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza have been reported and 5,267 people have been hospitalized in New York State.

"Influenza is a potentially deadly disease, and getting vaccinated is the best thing New Yorkers can do to protect themselves and those around them, followed by good hand hygiene," said New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker.

This season influenza B has been the most common strain circulating in some areas of the state. The influenza vaccine is typically more effective against influenza B, which reiterates how important it is for New Yorkers to get vaccinated.

Anyone 65 or older, people with medical conditions, young children and pregnant women are among those at highest risk. Since the influenza virus can spread through coughing or sneezing, it is especially important for family members and people who have regular contact with high-risk individuals to be vaccinated.

To receive a flu shot, contact your local health care provider or pharmacy, or find information about vaccination clinics by contacting your local health department.

In addition to getting a flu shot, remember to wash your hands. Influenza is easily killed by soap and hot water so wash your hands often with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds to protect yourself from germs and avoid spreading them to others. You should also carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to use when soap and water are not available. Do not cough or sneeze into your hands. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue instead.

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