Health official: Not too late for flu vaccine

Jan. 18, 2013 @ 06:03 PM

The flu season is here and it’s hitting North Carolina and most of the nation hard.

Although health professionals tell residents to get vaccinated against influenza early in the fall, it’s not too late.

Lisa Harrison, director of the Granville-Vance District Health Department, said, “By all means” when asked if someone should get the vaccine now.

The health department is providing the vaccine.

“In fact, we’re one of the few places that has the high dose vaccine that is recommended for people 65 and over,” she added.

The flu has hit that age group particularly hard this year, she said.

Harrison urges people to get the vaccine, whether at the health department, their primary care physician or a pharmacy.

“We don’t care where they get it,” she said. But it is important to be protected, she said, and it’s not too late.

In the 2010-2011 flu season, the number of cases in North Carolina didn’t peak until mid-February.

For the week ending on Jan. 12, the geographic spread of flu was widespread in North Carolina, according to information provided by the N.C. Department of Public Health. The outbreak this year was higher than in either of the past two years, and it peaked earlier.

The Center for Disease Control website states: “The single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year.”

And there are other things you can do. The website advises the following:

• If sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)

• Practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to prevent the spread of germs.

• Wash hands regularly.

• Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth.

• Clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.

The website states these precautions are not a substitute for vaccination, but can help prevent the spread of viruses like influenza.

The government website flu.gov provides information about prevention, symptoms and what to do if a family member gets the flu.

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.