New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a public health emergency on Saturday, in the wake of the worst flu outbreak in many years.

Cuomo’s order to allow pharmacists to administer more flu vaccines came just a day after federal health officials called the spread of the flu an epidemic.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday that there are elevated flu outbreaks in 9 out of 10 US health regions, and reported that 20 children across the United States had died as a result of infection.

In New York alone, 19,128 cases of the flu have been reported this season, up from a paltry 4,404 in 2011-2012.

As of January 5, NY reported 2,884 hospitalized flu sufferers, more than double last year’s tally.

Pharmacists will now be able to administer flu shots to patients from 6 months to 18 years old, instead of 18 and older as according to typical state limits.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino declared a public health emergency on Wednesday, stating that his city was reporting 10 times more cases of flu than in the previous year.

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Malkah Fleisher is a graduate of Cardozo Law School in New York City. She is an editor/staff writer at JewishPress.com and co-hosts a weekly Israeli FM radio show. Malkah lives with her husband and two children on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.