Over the holidays, North Carolina State Health Director, Dr. Laura Gerald, put out a press release urging all North Carolinians over the age of 6 months to get their annual flu shot. Public health professionals have deemed this year’s flu season to be the worst in recent years. By the end of December 2012, North Carolina had recorded 12 flu-related deaths.
There are preventive steps a person can take to help contain the spread of flu, as outlined in a previous PHW Newsletter. They are as follows:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze; DO NOT cough or sneeze into your hands.
- If you get sick with flu, stay home.
- Get the recommended seasonal flu vaccine.
Anyone who wishes to reduce their chances of contracting seasonal flu can, in most cases, get vaccinated. However, the following high-risk groups are strongly encouraged to do so every year and are given priority when vaccines are in short supply: pregnant women, children between the ages of 6 months and 19 years, those with chronic medical conditions, the elderly and health care workers.
According to Dr. Gerald, “this year’s vaccine is well-matched to the strains of flu we are seeing in North Carolina”, so it is imperative that all North Carolinians over the age of 6 months get vaccinated. The vaccine is provided free of charge at most health departments. To locate other flu vaccine clinics near you, please visit flu.nc.gov.
–Willona Stallings, PHW Program Coordinator