Health commissioner Mary Bassett warned New Yorkers to get the flu shot if they haven't already as the city weathers a particularly brutal flu season - with 6.5% of ER and outpatient clinic visits caused by the flu.
Over 2,000 New Yorkers died from the flu and pneumonia, a common flu-related complication, in 2015, the previous year with records available, according to a release from the New York City Health Department.
There are still weeks left in this flu this season, officials said. Businesses "legally have to provide sick leave", she said.
It's not too late to get a flu shot. "The flu shot can be administered even after the flu season begins", said Bassett.
That's 30% higher than the peak rate last year, and the highest number in at least four years. There are more than 36,800 confirmed flu cases overall. "That's not zero. What is a zero percent protection is not getting the vaccine", said Bassett. At least 19 states have reported at least one pediatric death this flu season. Without the governor's order, pharmacists in NY state are not authorized to administer immunizations to anyone under the age of 18.
Bassett said that people who are sick with the flu or flu-like symptoms should stay home, noting they are likely covered by sick leave as required by the city's Paid Sick Leave Act.
Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Lorelei Salas also reminded New Yorkers they have the right to sick leave.
According to the website, if residents work more than 80 hours a year for an employer that has five or more employees, they can earn up to 40 hours of sick leave each year.
For more information about the Paid Sick Leave Law or to file a complaint, call 311 or visit the site.