ALBANY, N.Y., Jan. 10 (UPI) -- There are more than 19,000 confirmed flu cases in New York, emergency rooms are crowded but officials say they are not calling a public health emergency.
Dr. Nirav R. Shah, New York state's health commissioner, said last year the flu season produced only 4,404 cases in all.
Shah spoke with reporters at the Capitol in Albany Thursday as he administered an influenza vaccine to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
"It is a serious situation," Cuomo told reporters as he rolled up the sleeve of his New York state polo shirt. "It is a matter of public health."
In New York City, patients with influenza account for about 5 percent of emergency room visits in the city -- higher than past years, but at the moment, New York City is not raising the same level of alarm as other cities, NY1 News, a 24-hour newschannel in New York City, reported.
Boston's mayor, Thomas Menino, declared a public health emergency Wednesday.
"We don't see any need to declare a public health emergency," Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City health commissioner, said. "We want to get our message out. If you haven't had your flu shot yet and you haven't been sick, time to get it now."
"Influenza activity in New York City is increasing and we encourage any New Yorkers who have not received their flu vaccination to do so immediately," Farley said.
"The vaccine is available at numerous sites throughout the city including local drugstores, most doctors' offices and Health Department immunization clinics," Farley said.
"Emergency departments are seeing more patients, and we ask New York City residents with flu symptoms to first contact their primary care medical provider, rather than seek care at an emergency department," he advised.
"Outbreaks have been reported in nursing homes and because flu can be particularly dangerous in the elderly, we urge nursing homes in New York City to vaccinate their staff and residents, restrict visits by potentially sick family members, and respond quickly to any possible case of flu in their facility."