OCEANSIDE - It’s the heart of cold and flu season, and state health officials say influenza is widespread in New York.

This week, health officials reported over 1,000 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza. That’s up 77 percent over the previous week.

Dr. Aaron Glatt says flu symptoms include fever or chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and body aches. To prevent it, Dr. Glatt says a flu shot is your best bet.

“It’s so important that everybody gets vaccinated and everybody gets taken care of properly if they do have the flu,” says Glatt.

Glatt adds that washing hands often with sanitizer or just soap and water helps as well.

State health officials say the flu outbreak started later than usual this year.  Glatt thinks it could be around for a while.

“It may not end in March or April,” Glatt says. “It may end in May, it may even go to June.”

State health officials have ordered all medical staff in hospitals to wear masks if they haven't received a flu shot this year.