Special to Iredell Free News
Public health officials with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services are seeing a decrease in flu vaccinations compared to previous years and urge North Carolinians 6 months and older to get their flu shot before the end of October, as flu season in the state typically peaks in the winter.
“A flu vaccine is important to protect you not only from the virus but also to protect your overall immune system as COVID-19 continues to spread,” said Dr. Elizabeth Tilson, NCDHHS state health director and chief medical officer. “Get your annual flu vaccine to prevent severe illness and more serious outcomes.”
It is especially important for those at higher risk of complications — people 65 and older, children younger than 5, pregnant women and those with certain medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease.
Seasonal flu vaccines are safe and effective. During the 2019-2020 flu season, flu vaccines prevented an estimated 7.5 million flu illnesses, 3.69 million medical visits, 105,000 hospitalizations and 63,000 flu deaths across the United States.
Flu vaccines are often available at little to no cost at pharmacies, local health departments, doctor offices and other providers throughout the state. North Carolinians should contact their health provider or visit vaccinefinder.org to find flu vaccines at nearby convenient locations.
Anyone who thinks they have the flu should contact a health care provider right away to see if they need treatment with a prescription antiviral drug such as Tamiflu. Early treatment can help reduce the severity of symptoms. Treatment with a prescription antiviral drug is especially important for hospitalized patients, people with severe flu illness and those who are at high risk of serious flu complications based on their age or health.
NCDHHS also launched a campaign to inform people of the health risks associated with the seasonal flu, the benefit of annual vaccination and to encourage annual flu vaccination across the state. MySpot.nc.gov/flu has the latest resources, guidance, answers to frequently asked questions, sharable materials and a new PSA.