Thousands struck by influenza epidemic in New York

Governor Andrew Cuomo's move on Saturday - which will allow pharmacists to immunise infants and children - comes amid a nationwide epidemic expected to last several weeks.

There have been at least 28,747 cases reported across the country so far this season, and 20 children have died from the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, the true number of cases is likely far higher.

“We are experiencing the worst flu season since at least 2009, and influenza activity in New York State is widespread, with cases reported in all 57 counties and all five boroughs of New York City,” he said in a statement.

"Therefore, I have directed my administration, the state health department and others to marshal all needed resources to address this public health emergency and remove all barriers to ensure that all New Yorkers - children and adults alike - have access to critically-needed flu vaccines."

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