OLEAN, NY -- Two Olean area pharmacists voiced support for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's executive order that allows pharmacists in New York State to administer flu vaccines to children ages 2 to 18.

Issued Thursday as a measure to combat the influenza epidemic, the executive order suspends the section of state education law that limits the authority of pharmacists to administer immunizing agents to anyone under age 18.

Joshua Horn, a pharmacist at Dan Horn Pharmacy & Health Services, 111 Greene St., said he has seen 12 cases of the flu "within the past week or so.”

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Horn said he believes that the executive order “is a good thing, especially given the severity of the influenza outbreak" and "definitely improves the odds" of combating the flu epidemic.

Robert Prizel, owner of Prizel’s Pharmacy a5 535 Main St., concurred.

“I think that anytime you can make it easy to get immunized is a good thing," Prizel said. "Pharmacies are educated enough to administer immunizations, and the more convenient you can make it for the patient the better.”

Prizel said he has seen approximately 20 cases in the past month, with children’s cases outnumbering adult cases 2 to 1.

“Pharmacies are already allowed to issue multiple immunizations, and have for many years,” Prizel said. “The more the better.”

The governor's office encouraged parents and guardians to call pharmacies ahead of their visits to make sure that they are ready to receive patients in the 2-to-18 age group. Those with children between the ages of 6 and 24 months are encouraged to take their children to their doctors for the vaccination.

Kathy Febraio, the executive director of the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York, said, "Pharmacists are preparing their operations to support the governor's executive order” and they "are pleased to play a critical role in containing the spread of flu in this vulnerable population."

According to a governor's office press release, 7,779 laboratory-confirmed influenza cases were reported to the state during the past week, and 1,759 New Yorkers have been hospitalized with confirmed influenza. Those are the highest weekly numbers in both categories since reporting began in 2004 and they surpassing last week's previous high of 1,606 hospitalizations.

"With flu cases reaching epidemic proportions in New York, we must do everything in our power to fight this virus and keep New Yorkers safe," Cuomo said. "Once again, I urge all New Yorkers to help us combat this quick-spreading strain of flu and make sure they and their loved ones are vaccinated."

For more information about the flu, and how to help combat it, visit: www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/influenza/seasonal.

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