As flu season approaches, state health officials encourage North Carolina residents to protect themselves by being vaccinated against the flu.
“Getting your flu shot now will protect you throughout the flu season, which typically runs from late fall to early spring,” said Division of Public Health Director Danny Staley. “The more vaccinations given early in the season, the more flu cases and the spread of flu will be prevented.”
During the 2014 – 2015 season, North Carolina recorded its highest number of flu-associated deaths in six years. This is a reminder that flu can be a serious illness, especially for adults over 65, children under five, pregnant women and those with certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease.
“Talk to you doctor about what vaccine is most appropriate for you,” Staley said. “This year, injectable vaccines are recommended. The nasal spray vaccine has been found to be a less effective method of vaccination.”
On June 22, 2016, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted that the live
“nasal spray” vaccine should not be used during the 2016-2017 flu season after recent studies determined it was less effective than injectable vaccines.
In addition to vaccination, state health officials encourage everyone to use precautions to protect against the spread of flu and other viruses:
- Wash hands frequently, preferably with soap and water or an approved hand sanitizer
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then discard the tissue promptly
- If you are sick with flu, stay home until you have been fever free for at least 24 hours
Flu shots are available at hospitals, pharmacies, private medical offices, some federally qualified health care centers and local health departments. North Carolina residents may use the Flu Finder tool at http://flu.nc.gov to help find flu clinics near them.