According to State Health Director Laura Gerald, flu activity across the state is at the highest levels recorded in the past decade. Twelve flu-related deaths already have been reported in our state.
“It is very unusual for us to see this many deaths so early in the flu season,” Dr. 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, flu can be especially dangerous for people at high risk of complications, including 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
State-supplied flu vaccine is available at no charge from most local health departments and many providers. Contact your local health department or find a flu vaccine clinic near you by visiting flu.nc.gov.