Deadly Flu Season

Lewis Goldstein, Member North Bronx Health Network receiving Flu Vaccine at NBHN at NCBH

As influenza continues to spread across New York City, Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett and Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas reminded New Yorkers that they can limit the spread of influenza by seeking care from a medical professional and staying home from work if they are sick. Thanks to NYC’s Paid Sick Leave Law, New Yorkers have the right to stay home and care for themselves or their family, regardless of immigration status. They also reminded New Yorkers that there is still time to get a flu shot. A flu shot, administered even after influenza season has arrived, can still provide immunity and mitigate the symptoms and complications should one contract the virus. The vaccine remains readily available; to find a vaccine, New Yorkers can call 311, visit here for the Flu Vaccine Locator or text “flu” to 877877.

The flu shot remains the best way to protect against the influenza virus and its severe symptoms and complications; those with flu-like symptoms should see their medical provider immediately

On Monday, the Health Department also confirmed the first three pediatric deaths of this flu season. Every year, more New Yorkers die from influenza and pneumonia than from any other infection. In 2015, 2,094 New Yorkers died from influenza and pneumonia, which is a common complication of influenza. About 90 percent of influenza-related deaths are among people aged 65 years and older. For the 2016-17 influenza season, there were 106 influenza-associated pediatric deaths nationally, including six influenza-associated pediatric deaths in New York City.

“New Yorkers don’t have to choose between their paycheck and caring for themselves or their loved ones if they have the flu—they have the right to sick leave,” said DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “Don’t spread the flu, stay home and get better. I’d also like to remind businesses that they legally have to provide sick leave. Workers whose employers don’t provide sick leave, or employers with questions about how to comply should contact us by calling 311 or visit nyc.gov/PaidSickLeave.”

Vaccine is widely available; to find a vaccine, New Yorkers can call 311,
visit the Flu Vaccine Locator or text “flu” to 877877

Under the NYC Paid Sick Leave Law, employers with five or more employees who are hired to work more than 80 hours per calendar year in New York City must provide paid sick leave. Employers with fewer than five employees must provide unpaid sick leave. Accrual begins on employee’s first day of employment and employees can begin using accrued leave 120 days after. On the first day of employment, employers must provide the Notice of Employee Rights in English and, if available on the DCA website, their primary language. Domestic workers who have worked for their employer for more than one year must be provided two days of paid sick leave, which is in addition to the three days of paid rest under the New York State Labor Law. For those employers who do not frontload sick leave on the first day of a new calendar year, you must carryover up to 40 hours of unused sick leave from one calendar year to the new calendar year. Additionally, you must allow an employee to accrue one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 accrued hours in a calendar year.

Employers and employees can visit nyc.gov/PaidSickLeave or call 311 (212-NEW-YORK outside New York City) for more information; the required Notice of Employee Rights; one-page overviews for employers and employees; FAQs; DCA’s paid sick leave training presentation; and the complaint form. DCA has also developed tools to help employers keep track of employees’ hours worked and sick leave used as well as model forms for verification of authorized sick time used, intention to use sick time and request to make up missed work as an alternative to using sick time.

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