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Back You are here: Home News Local and State News Local Get Vaccinated: Flu Claims 64 Lives In North Carolina

Get Vaccinated: Flu Claims 64 Lives In North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. : February 13, 2014 - According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, as of February 8th, 64 people had died due to the flu virus during the 2013-2014 Flu Season.
That figure is based on reports submitted by providers to the North Carolina Division of Public Health. An influenza-associated death is defined for surveillance purposes as a death (adult or pediatric) resulting from a clinically compatible illness that was confirmed to be influenza by an appropriate laboratory or rapid diagnostic test with no period of complete recovery between the illness and death. Deaths that occurred after 2/8/14 will be included in subsequent surveillance summaries.
Last month the New Hanover County Health Department reported that an elderly lady died from the flu with no underlying complications. She had not recieved a flu shot.
An infant in the eastern region of the state died on January 13th, because of complications associated with influenza. (To protect the family's privacy, the infant's hometown, county and sex are not being released.)
Although the infant was too young to receive a flu vaccination, the tragic event emphasizes the need for everyone to take precautions.
"Losing a child is one of the greatest challenges a person will ever face and our hearts go out to the child's family," said State Health Director Robin Gary Cummings. "We hope that if there is any positive to come out of this tragedy it will be that our residents will understand how serious the flu can be and take precautions, including getting a flu vaccination."
Flu activity has been widespread in North Carolina since mid-December. High levels of flu activity are expected to continue over the coming weeks, as flu season typically peaks during January and February. Flu vaccine is widely available and protects against the strains of flu circulating this year, including H1N1, the most common flu strain so far this year.
State Health Director Robin Gary Cummings is encouraging flu vaccination as the best protection against flu, especially for women who are pregnant, people who are obese, and people who have medical conditions like heart disease or lung disease that place them at higher risk for severe illness.
"More than 50 percent of North Carolina's total population has some form of chronic disease," said Dr. Cummings. "Conditions like asthma, congestive heart failure and diabetes can increase the risk for complications from
flu. It's not too late to get vaccinated and it is the safest and most effective action you can take to protect yourself and your family."
It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against flu. Public health experts recommend taking additional precautions against illness, including washing your hands often with soap and water, and staying away from others who may have the flu.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly half of all adults hospitalized nationwide for flu so far this season have been obese, a higher proportion than in other recent flu seasons. While information about weight is not typically reported in North Carolina, obesity was noted in five of this season's flu deaths.
"Those at higher risk of complications from flu should see a doctor right away if they suspect they might have influenza," Cummings said. "Early treatment with antiviral medicine is an important second line of defense for those who become ill."
Flu activity has been widespread in North Carolina since mid-December. High levels of flu activity are expected to continue over the coming weeks, as flu season typically peaks during January and February.
Flu vaccine is widely available and protects against the strains of flu circulating this year, including H1N1, the most common flu strain so far this year.
For more information on flu prevention and treatment and to find out where you can get a flu vaccination in your community, visit www.flu.nc.gov.
The New Hanover County Health Department is offering flu shots from 8:15am to 4:30pm Monday through Friday at 2029 S. 17th Street in Wilmington.
Please bring a photo ID and insurance card. They will bill all major insurance, Medicare, Medicaid or you can self-pay. They also have high dose vaccines for those 65 or older. Call 910-798-6646 to schedule your appointment.
If you plan to self-pay, the cost at the New Hanover County Health Department for the regular shot is $45. For the high dose, the cost is $60. For a mist vaccine, the cost is $55. They also offer a pneumonia shot for $100.
At Walgreens in Carolina Beach the cost for a flu shot is $34.99 for self-pay and walk-ins are welcome. Insurance is also accepted.
This year's vaccine protects against the strains of flu that are expected to circulate this year, including H1N1. Vaccination is available in nasal spray and shot form.
Influenza (the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses External link.
It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The safest, most effective way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone 6 months and older get their yearly flu vaccine.
In addition to vaccination, DHHS encourages everyone to use personal precautions to protect against the spread of flu and other viruses:
• Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then discard the tissue promptly.
• Wash hands frequently, preferably with soap and water or an approved hand sanitizer.
• Stay home when you are sick until you are fever free for at least 24 hours.
For more information on flu and to find out where you can get a flu vaccination in your community, visit www.flu.nc.gov.
The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Some minor side effects that could occur are:
• Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
• Fever (low grade)
• Aches
If these problems occur, they usually begin soon after the shot and last one to two days.
The nasal spray (also called LAIV or FluMist®): The viruses in the nasal-spray vaccine are weakened and do not cause severe symptoms
often associated with influenza illness. (In clinical studies, transmission of vaccine viruses to close contacts has occurred only rarely.)  In children, side effects from LAIV (FluMist®) can include:
•  runny nose
• wheezing
• headache
• vomiting
• muscle aches
• fever
In adults, side effects from LAIV (FluMist®) can include
• runny nose
• headache
• sore throat
• cough
For more information, visit the NC Flu Update at www.flu.nc.gov
Source: NC Department of Health and Human Services.