N.C. DHHS encourages flu vaccination as part of holiday preparation

Published 3:28pm Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Flu activity in North Carolina is higher than normal for this time of year, prompting state health officials to remind North Carolinians that now is the best time to get vaccinated for flu.

“Holiday travel and visits with family may provide more opportunities for cold and flu germs to spread,” State Health Director Laura Gerald said. “Getting a flu vaccination now will reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and lessen the chance that you will spread it to friends and family.”

According to information collected by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Public Health, health care providers across the state, including college student health centers, already are seeing an increase in flu-like illness.

“Last year, we had a mild flu season, but that is not necessarily an indicator of what we can expect this year,” said Dr. Gerald. “Our State Laboratory of Public Health handles flu tests for providers across the state and since the beginning of November, we have seen an increase in positive test results.”

Most influenza infections can be prevented by the simple act of getting the flu vaccine. Flu vaccine is recommended for anyone over 6 months old. It is particularly important for people at high risk of complications, including pregnant women, people with chronic diseases, very young children and the elderly.

This year, flu vaccine is available in several forms, including:

• nasal spray for healthy, non-pregnant people age 2 to 49 years;

• a regular flu shot for people ages 6 months and older;

• an intradermal flu shot which uses a needle 90 percent smaller than the regular flu shot and is approved for people 18 to 64 years of age; and

• a high-dose flu shot for people 65 and older.

Flu vaccine is widely available through doctors’ offices and health departments and is also available at many pharmacies, work places and other locations. Flu season in North Carolina normally peaks in January or February. Flu vaccines are offered at your local health departments Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

In addition to vaccination, you can prevent the spread of flu and other illness by washing your hands frequently, staying home from work or school while you are sick, and covering coughs and sneezes.

More information about flu activity and flu vaccines as well as a convenient flu vaccine finder can be found at flu.nc.gov.

– article submitted

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