ALBANY, N.Y. - New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state public health emergency in response to the severe flu season.
In a statement, Governor Cuomo announced that he signed an Executive Order to permit pharmacists in the state to administer flu vaccinations to patients between 6 months and 18-years-old.
2 YOUR HEALTH 2013 FLU EPIDEMIC
According to the Governor's Office, this order suspends for 30 days the section of State Education Law that limits the authority of pharmacists to administer immunizing agents only to individuals 18 years of age or older.
The Erie County Health Department is making a plea to residents that if you think you have the flu, do not go to the emergency room.
More information about influenza can be found on the State Health Department's website.
The Visiting Nurse Association of Western New York is holding flu shot clinics the week of January 13-18. For more information on where and when the clinics will be held, click here. You can call its hotline at (716) 630-8330.
Sunday, the VNA had more than 150 people show up to its flu shot clinic. While health officials say there is no shortage of flu shots in Western New York, some doctors have temporarily run out of shots and are awaiting new shipments.
"A lot of kids are coming in," said Donna Sauer of the VNA of Western New York. "Parents are bringing kids. Pediatricians were out of vaccine. They wanted to find a place to take their kids."
Locally, emergency rooms are filling up. To avoid overcrowding and germs, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center has restricted the number of visitors allowed in the hospital per patient, limiting patients to just one visitor. For births, only the father and grandparents may visit.
A spokesperson for Kaleida Health Systems said Sunday that its hospitals have not yet needed any restrictions, but may reconsider this week if flu cases continue to spike.