CDC Releases Interim Estimates on Flu Vaccine Effectiveness as Flu Remains Widespread in North Carolina

CDC Releases Interim Estimates on Flu Vaccine Effectiveness as Flu Remains Widespread in North Carolina

CDC Releases Interim Estimates on Flu Vaccine Effectiveness as Flu Remains Widespread in North Carolina Featured

By / Local News / الإثنين, 19 شباط/فبراير 2018 02:56

RALEIGH, N.C. - With flu activity in North Carolina remaining widespread, state health officials are continuing to encourage North Carolinians to get vaccinated. Interim estimates of vaccine effectiveness released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the vaccine is approximately 36 percent effective this season and 59 percent effective for children 6 months to 8 years old.

During the 2016-17 flu season, the vaccine was estimated to be 39 percent effective, close to the CDC’s initial estimate for this season.

“Overall, the vaccine has reduced the risk of getting sick from the flu and having to go to the doctor by about a third,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Zack Moore. “While we all wish the flu vaccine could be more effective, this information emphasizes the importance of making sure young children get vaccinated. It’s better to get vaccinated earlier in the season, but it’s still not too late.”

Even though the vaccine doesn’t prevent all flu infections, it has been shown to protect people at higher risk of complications, like older adults, young children, pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions. It can also make the illness milder in the event someone who was vaccinated does get the flu.
So far, there have been 165 flu-associated deaths reported to the Division of Public Health this flu season. Of those, 118 have been people 65 and older.

People who think they have the flu should contact their doctor right away to see if they need treatment with a prescription antiviral drug such as Tamiflu. Early treatment with an antiviral drug can help prevent flu infections from becoming more serious. 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.

New Hanover County Public Health is reminding the community to take precautions to protect against the spread of flu and other viruses. Residents are encouraged to get a flu shot, which is available at the Health Department, doctor’s offices, and local pharmacies.
“A flu shot is one of the first lines of defense against the virus and it’s not too late to get one,” said New Hanover County Public Health Director Phillip Tarte. “The flu virus is very contagious and can be anywhere – a gas pump, the counter at a store, or on your child’s backpack. Be diligent and wash your hands frequently.”

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services specifically recommends:
• Getting a flu shot
• Wash hands frequently, preferably with soap and water or an approved hand sanitizer
• Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then discard the tissue promptly
• If you are sick with flu, stay home from work or school until you have been fever free for at least 24 hours.

Since October 1, 2017, there have been 10 flu-related deaths reported in New Hanover County and five of those have been at long-term care facilities. Last year, there were a total of four deaths related to the flu.

Each year, the peak of the flu season occurs at different times. “The flu season is spiking earlier this year than it did last year,” said Tarte. A comparison over the past three years of flu illness in North Carolina can be viewed at www.flu.nc.gov

The county’s Health Department offers a flu clinic for the public and administers the vaccine at county schools at the start of each flu season. The Health Department also offers education and prevention assistance to local organizations and businesses.

School nurses continually monitor the schools for illnesses; and the Health Department is prepared to assist schools with any abnormally-high flu occurrence, but none have been reported this flu season.

The Health Department will continue to closely monitor the public’s health during this flu season and keep the community informed.

The N.C. Division of Public Health posts updates on flu surveillance data every Thursday during flu season at http://flu.nc.gov

Sources: North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services & New Hanover County Health Department.

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