Cuomo declares health emergency over flu
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EAST AMHERST, N.Y. -- The number of people getting flu shots at Buffalo Pharmacies Incorporated has been steadily increasing.
"Earlier in this season, no, I think people were a little complacent,” said Pharmacist Mike Heins. “But over the last two weeks, it's accelerating."
Saturday, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order allowing pharmacists to immunize children from 6 months to 18 years old.
"Anybody in New York State can get a flu shot,” said Heins. “They don't have to see their physician. They don't have to have a prescription. They can just walk into a pharmacy where the pharmacist is licensed to give flu shots."
The amount of flu cases reported this year in New York alone is nearing 20,000. It's more than a 400% increase from last year and has led to the unprecedented move.
"In 2009 the Swine Flu epidemic was just as much of an emergency, but at that time and up until today, we were not licensed to give flu shots for children," said Heins.
Now if you do get sick, right now there's no shortage of the medication for the flu at Buffalo Pharmacy. But that might not be the case the entire year.
"I haven't heard of anybody having difficulty with it yet,” said Heins. “It could happen though. It did in 2009."
The Erie County Health Commissioner has repeatedly advised Western New Yorkers to get the shot.
"It's a concern, especially for my older relatives and my younger son," said Buffalo resident Bill Wagner.
"In previous years, there's been such an alarm with it and they said we're falling short, so it's a lot easier now that they have it available," said resident Nabia Bautista.
"I had it. It went through my office. We had it and we all got through it,” said resident Kristin Meyer. “It's not as bad as people are making it. It really isn't."
But pharmacist Mike Heins is applauding the Governor for taking the flu seriously.
"It's a good thing,” said Heins. “The more people that get vaccinated the better, because if one person gets it they're going to give it to someone else."
Cuomo's order lasts through the next 30 days.