Local officials stress need for flu shots

Flu activity across North Carolina is at the highest level in a decade, according to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services
Dec. 28, 2012 @ 08:33 AM

It’s not too late to get a flu shot, and officials at the Caldwell County Health Department recommend you do so quickly if you haven’t.
Jessica Carter, the department’s health education supervisor said Thursday that there is no vaccine at the Heath Department, but she added that it can be found at local pharmacies and at doctor’s offices.
The need for a flu shot has reached an urgent level because flu activity across North Carolina is at the highest level in a decade, according to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. Twelve flu-related deaths have been reported in the state.
“It is very unusual for us to have seen this many deaths so early in the flu season,” State Health Director Laura Gerald said. “This year’s vaccine is well-matched to the strains of flu we are seeing in North Carolina so we strongly recommend that anyone over 6 months old be vaccinated.”
Flu outbreaks have been reported in schools and long-term care facilities across the state. Although everyone is at risk for complications from flu, it can be especially dangerous for pregnant women, people with chronic diseases, very young children and the elderly. Because it takes about two weeks for immunity to develop after vaccination, getting an immunization between now and the start of the New Year should provide protection when individuals go back to work or school.
Flu vaccine is the safest and most effective way to protect against flu and is recommended for anyone over 6 months old. In addition to vaccination, Dr. Gerald recommends that you follow additional precautions to avoid spreading cold and flu to others:
• Stay home when you are sick;
• wash your hands regularly with soap and water ;
• cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then discard the tissue promptly.