Appalachian District Health Department and Appalachian Regional Healthcare System are encouraging everyone to seek protection against the flu. Recently, the first death due to flu in North Carolina occurred in the Western North Carolina region.
“Tragically, we lose people every year due to influenza and too often, we delay getting vaccinated when there are so many opportunities available to get this important immunization,” said Beth Lovette, Health Director.
Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. Over a period of 31 seasons between 1976 and 2007, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. During a regular flu season, about 90 percent of deaths occur in people 65 years and older. The “seasonal flu season” in the United States can begin as early as October and last as late as May.
“An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and lessen the chance that you will spread it to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through the community,” stated Dr. Herman Godwin, Chief Medical Officer, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System.
There are two types of vaccines:
- The “flu shot” – an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle, usually in the arm. The flu shot is approved for use in people older than 6 months, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions.There are three different flu shots available:
- The nasal-spray flu vaccine – a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that is given as a nasal spray (sometimes called LAIV for “Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine”). The viruses in the nasal spray vaccine do not cause the flu. LAIV is approved for use in healthy* people 2 through 49 years of age who are not pregnant.
About 2 weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection against the influenza viruses in the vaccine develop in the body.
It is especially important for children, older adults, and those that have medical conditions putting them at greater risks for complications from the flu, such as chronic health conditions like diabetes or heart disease, an immune compromised health condition, or pregnancy be vaccinated against the influenza.
To protect you and your family from flu:
- Get your flu vaccine!
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
- While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
Symptoms of the flu include fever, aches, fatigue, cough, and stuffy and/or runny nose. If you do become sick, call your healthcare provider or the health department to find out what he or she recommends.