N.Y. Hospital Staffs Must Get Flu Shot or Wear Mask

ALBANY (AP) -

In an effort to limit the flu in the upcoming season, New York health officials are requiring thousands of medical staff to get vaccinated or else wear masks when in close contact with patients.

The rules apply to more than 4,000 hospitals, clinics, diagnostic centers, nursing homes, hospices and home- care agencies statewide. Adopted in July, they will apply when officials determine influenza is prevalent. Last year, that meant Nov. 24 to April 20 when the flu was widespread. The rules carry no immediate penalties and do not apply to hospital visitors like patients’ families.

New York recorded 45,352 confirmed cases and 9,537 patients hospitalized with influenza last season, when the flu was considered widespread for 22 weeks and cited in 14 pediatric deaths. Last year’s vaccine was about 62 percent effective.