Health department urges public to get ready for flu season

LAURINBURG — Scotland County Health Department is reminding the public to protect yourself and everyone in your family who is 6 months and older with an annual flu vaccine! During the 2017-2018 flu season, 391 flu deaths were reported in North Carolina, the most reported during a flu season since adult flu deaths became reportable in the state in 2009. Of those 391 deaths, 290 were people age 65 and older and seven were children under the age of 18.

While the timing of flu season is unpredictable, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and last as late as May. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that people get vaccinated by the end of October if possible, as it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against influenza virus infection.

“It’s important to get vaccinated against the flu since influenza, a serious, contagious respiratory illness, caused by flu viruses, that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different and influenza infection can affect people differently” states Alisa Freeman, Public Health Nurse supervisor. “There are great benefits of the flu vaccination,” added Ms. Freeman. “it can reduce the chances of your getting sick with the flu, significantly reduce the risk of flu associated hospitalization, helps protect women during and after pregnancy, as the vaccine protects the developing baby during pregnancy and for several months after the baby is born, may make your illness milder if you do get sick, and getting vaccinated yourself protects people around you, including those more vulnerable to serious flu illness like babies, young children, and, it’s a preventive tool for older people and people with chronic health conditions. For example, people with chronic lung disease are at a higher risk of developing severe pneumonia.”

It’s also important to understand the flu is different from a cold. Most people who get influenza will recover in several days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications as a result of the flu. The flu usually comes on suddenly and often people feel some or all of these symptoms such as:

* Fever or feeling feverish/chilled – though not everyone with flu will have a fever

* Cough

* Sore Throat

* Runny or stuffy nose

* Muscle or body aches

* Headaches

* Fatigue (tiredness)

* Possible vomiting and diarrhea – though more common in children than adults

Still, there are some people who should not be vaccinated without first consulting their doctor. These include people who have had a severe allergic reaction to chicken eggs, had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past, developed Guillain-Barre’ Syndrome (GBS) within six weeks of getting the influenza vaccine, children less than six months of age, or people who have a moderate or severe illness with a fever until symptoms lessen.

It’s important to note the CDC is recommending the use of injectable influenza vaccines and not the nasal spray flu vaccine during the 2017-18 flu season and that flu vaccines have been updated to better match circulating viruses.

Scotland County Health Department will begin providing flu vaccination on weekdays from 8 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. beginning Monday, October 15th with no appointment necessary for adults. For more information about the flu vaccine, the cost associated with the flu vaccine, or to schedule an appointment for your child, call the Scotland County Health Department at 910-277-2440.

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