CDC Director Dr. Mandy Cohen, in his return to Nassau, urges vaccination against influenza, COVID, and RSV.
Dr. Mandy Cohen, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a Baldwin native, said during a visit to Long Island on Monday.
Cohen urged locals to get the vaccine, noting that although cases appear to be low, nearly 1,000 New Yorkers have died from COVID-19 over the past three months. She reiterated the call for vaccination against influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, noting that both are on the rise locally and nationally.
“I’m here in Nassau County where I grew up,” Cohen said after touring Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow. “I wouldn’t recommend anything that my parents wouldn’t recommend to my daughters. We’ve all gotten the updated COVID vaccine, the updated flu shot. So I hope people in Nassau County can hear someone’s opinion. I’m coming home to say protect yourselves this holiday season.”
State Department of Health statistics show about 7.2% of Nassau County residents and 6.8% of Suffolk County residents have received the updated vaccine, although those numbers may be incomplete because reporting is no longer mandatory. Statewide, in areas outside New York City, the rate is 8.7%.
However, the national ratio cannot be directly compared to county and state figures, as they are collected in different ways.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) numbers are based on a self-reported national survey. As of November 17, 5.4% of children, 14.8% of adults over 18, and 31.7% of adults 65 and over have received the updated COVID-19 vaccine.
This is the first year that vaccines for RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, have been available, targeting young children, pregnant women and the elderly. Cohen acknowledged that monoclonal antibody treatment for infants and young children is still not available.
“The manufacturer did not anticipate the high demand for this shot,” Cohen said. “I personally have been on the phone with them dozens of times to try to speed up production. We have just released another 70,000 doses.”
Cohen said people should be careful when gathering and traveling over Thanksgiving, because those events can lead to the spread of viruses.
“I know it’s hard to miss family gatherings, but if you’re sick, please don’t spread these viruses everywhere,” she said. “We want people to stay home if they’re sick, get tested, get treated, and make sure they do the things we’ve learned in the last few years: wash your hands, use masks, open that window. There are lots of ways to stay safe.”
Earlier in the morning, Cohen received a citation from Nassau County Executive Bruce Blackman during a ceremony at his office. She was accompanied by her mother, Susan Krauthammer, a nurse practitioner who previously worked at Hempstead General Hospital and Mercy Medical Center.
Dr. John Zaso, a pediatrician at NUMC’s East Meadow, said there has been an uptick in influenza and respiratory syncytial virus cases in recent weeks.
“Respiratory syncytial virus and influenza are our concern now,” he said, noting that most of the influenza cases he sees are among children who have not been vaccinated.
“This year, it’s very good — between 60 and 65 percent,” he said of the effectiveness of the flu vaccine against circulating strains. “It’s not too late to get this. The risk of hospitalization is much lower if you get this vaccine.”