If you're making a list of New Year's resolutions, Governor Paterson has one for you to add: Get a swine flu shot.
Paterson says the H1N1 flu, or swine flu, is still active in New York. Now that swine flu vaccine shortages are over, state health officials are urging people who haven't been vaccinated to get the shots -- as new waves of illness are expected in coming weeks.
"When it's in a shortage, everyone clamors for it,'' said Dr. Richard Daines, commissioner of the state Department of Health. "Now that it's abundant, people don't think they need to fight for it.''
New York is still among 11 states that has widespread flu outbreaks -- meaning more than half of the state's counties are reporting cases. Another wave of flu could hit this winter or spring, Daines said.
"There's sort of a sense the outbreak has passed,'' Daines said. "But our experience with the flu virus every year is there's an outbreak and then (another) in January, February, or March.''
Pharmacies around New York are now allowed to give vaccinations and are receiving their first doses this week and next. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is in talks with national chains Target and Wal-Mart to potentially have them start distributing the vaccine.
The swine flu vaccine supply started with just a trickle from manufacturers in early October, leading doctors to reserve it for pregnant women, people with asthma, children and young adults, and others at high risk of becomingly severely ill.
Through the week ending Dec. 26, there have been 59 confirmed H1N1-related deaths in the counties outside New York City since Sept. 1, according to the Health Department. During the week ending Dec. 26, 126 people were hospitalized in New York with H1N1 flu.
CDC officials estimate the virus has sickened one in six Americans -- 50 million people -- and killed about 10,000 since the virus was first identified in April. It has caused unusually high numbers of serious illnesses in young adults and middle-age people.
But overall, it is not causing more deaths and hospitalizations than ordinary seasonal flu, and many people are not worried about getting it.