By Paul T. Choate
Jan. 15, 2013. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has bumped North Carolina’s flu activity estimate back to “widespread” as of the most recent report on Jan. 5, following being downgraded to “sporadic” back on Dec. 31.
If you haven’t gotten that flu shot yet, it might be time to start thinking about it in earnest. There are plenty of places around to get a flu shot and compared to the cost of hospitalization it’s relatively cheap — generally somewhere around $20 and potentially even less depending on your insurance.
According to Watauga County Schools Supt. David Kafitz at the most recent Board of Education meeting, prior to the winter break some schools in the county had as high as a 20 percent absence rate. Following the break though attendance has returned to normal numbers.
Due to so many illnesses mimicking the symptoms of the flu, Mark Van Sciver, NC Department of Health and Human Services public information officer, said there is no way to know for sure exactly how many people have it at any given time.
“There are flu and there are other viruses that look like flu,” Van Sciver said. “People say ‘I had the flu’ and they may have had a 24-hour virus and said it was flu.”
One hard number is available though. As of the most recent report from the NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) on Jan. 5, 17 North Carolinians have been killed by the flu during this flu season. This is already more than during all of the 2011-2012 flu season, when the virus claimed nine North Carolinians’ lives.
Candy Gambill, Appalachian District Health Department communicable disease and preparedness coordinator, said she has noticed a seemingly worse outbreak this year than in years past here in the High Country based on people visiting the emergency room, urgent care and the health department.
“Each year the CDC has given a different recommendation for who got the flu shot. Now, it’s basically anybody should get a flu shot and you can get it at any time. It’s never too late,” Gambill said.
The flu shot typically takes about two weeks to provide full protection, so it is important to get it as soon as possible with the activity being deemed widespread in our state again. Here are some places that offer flu shots:
Boone Drug — King St.
202 W. King St., Boone
Pharmacy hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday
Boone Drug — Deerfield
345 Deerfield Road, Boone
Pharmacy hours: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 12:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday
Boone Drug — New Market
245 New Market Centre, Boone
Pharmacy hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday
379 Sunset Drive, Blowing Rock
Pharmacy hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday
520 Church Road, Banner Elk
Pharmacy hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday
4136 Hospital Drive, Linville
Pharmacy hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday
2147 Blowing Rock Road, Boone
Pharmacy hours: 24/7
325 Pineola St., Newland
Pharmacy hours: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day
2184 Blowing Rock Road, Boone
Pharmacy hours: 24/7
Watauga County Health Department
126 Poplar Grove Connector
Hours: 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday
Avery County Health Department
545 Schultz Circle, Newland
Hours: Open at 8 a.m., ask that no flu shots be requested past 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday