New Yorkers Refuse to Wear Flu Masks Unless They’re Fashionable

New York City is full of red-carpet events, which means that during flu season, medical masks have to match the high fashion.

With this year’s flu season being the worst since the 2009 Swine Flu outbreak, people across the country are donning medical masks when they go out into public in an attempt to prevent themselves from getting sick. In New York City, however, those medical masks have undergone a fashionable transformation, the New York Post reports.

Blogger Esther Berg is just one of the socialites adding a fashion twist in the latest health statement. Appearing at a New York Fashion Week party, she completed her outfit with a medical mask with interlocking Chanel C’s.

“I might be scared of the flu, but I don’t want to sacrifice fashion,” she said. “I’d rather look crazy and take these extra measures than wind up in the ER or on the news.”

Berg isn’t the only one being health-conscious with their fashion choices. Ellessco, an online retailer that sells filtration masks in 20 different prints, had seen a 25% spike in sales, which they contribute to this year’s flu season. Vogmasks, which sells fashionable patterned respirator masks, has seen a 20% uptick in sales this flu season.

“The current trend towards colorful masks that also protect our lungs … means that retailers are finally starting to think about our respiratory health seriously — and stylishly,” said Noah Greenspan, a cardiopulmonary physical therapist.

The influx of medical mask sales comes as fear of the flu spreads, with the CDC reporting at the beginning of the month that influenza had already claimed the lives of more than 50 children.

Acting CDC director Dr. Anne Schuchat said that this year's flu season is the worst since the 2009 Swine Flu pandemic. Her statement comes on the heels of new research from Canada that revealed that this year’s flu vaccine is 14% less effective than originally thought, meaning that it is just 20% effective against the dominant H3N2 strain.

“That means people who were vaccinated should not consider themselves invincible for this season,” said lead researcher Dr. Danuta Skowronski, an infectious diseases expert at the BC Center for Disease Control.

Despite the inefficiency of the flu vaccine, the CDC is still urging people to get vaccinated, as it can still lessen the chance of catching the virus by 10% to 60%, potentially saving lives.