First Flu Death Of The Season In NC

First Flu Death Of The Season In NC Featured

By / Local News / Tuesday, 14 October 2014 04:00

New Hanover County Offering Flu Clinics

RALEIGH, N.C. : October 9th, 2014 - The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is reporting the state's first flu death for the 2014-2015 flu season. An elementary school-aged child in the Triangle region of the State died last week because of complications from an influenza infection. The child was at risk for complications from the flu because of underlying medical conditions.
To protect the family's privacy, the child's hometown, county, age and sex are not being released.
"We extend our thoughts and prayers to the family on their loss," said State Health Director Robin Cummings, M.D. "We hope that making people aware of this tragic case will encourage preventative measures and remind everyone that it is not too early to be vaccinated. We are very early in the flu season and we expect to see flu activity increase in the coming weeks and months."
"Vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective public health tools available for preventing disease and death," said Dr. Cummings, "They not only help protect vaccinated individuals, but they also help protect the entire community by reducing and preventing the spread of infectious diseases."
As of today, NC DHHS will be releasing weekly flu numbers at: www.flu.nc.gov. Additional information on flu and locations where you can get a flu vaccination is also available on the website.
The New Hanover County Health Department began offering flu shots Tuesday, Sept. 30.
Appointments are available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and walk-ins will be gladly accepted.  To schedule your appointment, call (910) 798-6646.
According to health officials, everyone six months of age and older should be vaccinated against the flu annually, especially those with chronic diseases, such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease. Pregnant women and the elderly are also at high risk.
“Getting an annual flu shot is the best way to prevent flu from spreading,” said New Hanover County Deputy Health Director Joshua Swift. “Also, protect yourself and others by covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands frequently with soap and water or hand sanitizer, and staying home and away from others when sick.”
This year, the health department will offer the traditional injectable vaccine for ages 6 months and older, the nasal spray (FluMist) to ages two through 49, and a high dose option to those 65 and older.  The vaccine protects against four flu strains, including the common H1N1 and H3N2 varieties.
Persons with mobility issues can receive the vaccine in their automobile, if requested. You do not have to be a New Hanover County resident to receive a flu shot at the New Hanover County Health Department.
Interested in hosting a flu clinic at your church, business or civic group?  For groups of 20 or more, the health department will gladly bring a flu clinic to you.  For more information or scheduling, call (910) 798-6529.
Flu vaccines are $45.00 each for age 6 months to 65 yrs. High dose vaccine for patients age 65+ are $60.00. FluMist (intranasal) vaccine is available for patients age 2 to 49 at a charge of $55.00. The health department accepts Medicare/Medicaid, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of NC, United Health Care, Aetna, Cigna, Tricare, Health Choice, cash, check, or Visa/MasterCard (credit or debit). For my information call 910-798-6646.
The Health Department will be hosting an Influenza Vaccination Outreach at Kure Beach Town Hall on Wednesday, October 15th from 4-7 pm. Please bring a picture ID and your insurance cards. If you are paying out of pocket, the cost of the flu shot is $45.
CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease. While there are many different flu viruses, the seasonal flu vaccine is designed to protect against the main flu viruses that research suggests will cause the most illness during the upcoming flu season. People should begin getting vaccinated soon after flu vaccine becomes available, ideally by October, to ensure that as many people as possible are protected before flu season begins.
In addition to getting vaccinated, you can take everyday preventive actions like staying away from sick people and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs. If you are sick with flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading flu to others.
Encourage your loved ones to get vaccinated as soon as vaccine becomes available in their communities, preferably by October. Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk for serious flu complications, and their close contacts.
Children between 6 months and 8 years of age may need two doses of flu vaccine to be fully protected from flu. Your child’s doctor or other health care professional can tell you whether your child needs two doses.
Children younger than 6 months are at higher risk of serious flu complications, but are too young to get a flu vaccine. Because of this, safeguarding them from flu is especially important. If you live with or care for an infant younger than 6 months of age, you should get a flu vaccine to help protect them from flu.
How much flu vaccine will be available this season?
Flu vaccine is produced by private manufacturers, so supply depends on manufacturers. For this season, manufacturers have projected they will provide between 151-159 million doses of vaccine for the U.S. market.
Flu vaccines are designed to protect against the main flu viruses that research suggests will be the most common during the upcoming season. Three kinds of flu viruses commonly circulate among people today: Influenza A (H1N1) viruses, influenza A (H3N2) viruses, and influenza B viruses.
What flu viruses does this season’s vaccine protect against?
All of the 2014-2015 influenza vaccine is made to protect against the following three viruses:
• an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
• an A/Texas/50/2012 (H3N2)-like virus
• a B/Massachusetts/2/2012-like virus.
Some of the 2014-2015 flu vaccine also protects against an additional B virus (B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus).
Vaccines that give protection against three viruses are called trivalent vaccines. Vaccines that give protection against four viruses are called quadrivalent vaccines.
How long does a flu vaccine protect me from getting the flu?
Multiple studies conducted over different seasons and across vaccine types and influenza virus subtypes have shown that the body’s immunity to influenza viruses (acquired either through natural infection or vaccination) declines over time. The decline in antibodies is influenced by several factors, including the antigen used in the vaccine, the age of the person being vaccinated, and the person's general health (for example, certain chronic health conditions may have an impact on immunity). When most healthy people with regular immune systems are vaccinated, their bodies produce antibodies and they are protected throughout the flu season, even as antibody levels decline over time. Older people and others with weakened immune systems may not generate the same amount of antibodies after vaccination; further, their antibody levels may drop more quickly when compared to young, healthy people.
For everyone, getting vaccinated each year provides the best protection against influenza throughout flu season. It’s important to get a flu vaccine every season, even if you got vaccinated the season before and the viruses in the vaccine have not changed for the current season.
Can the vaccine provide protection even if the vaccine is not a "good" match?
Yes, antibodies made in response to vaccination with one flu virus can sometimes provide protection against different but related viruses. A less than ideal match may result in reduced vaccine effectiveness against the virus that is different from what is in the vaccine, but it can still provide some protection against influenza illness.
In addition, it's important to remember that the flu vaccine contains three or four flu viruses (depending on the type of vaccine you receive) so that even when there is a less than ideal match or lower effectiveness against one virus, the vaccine may protect against the other viruses.
For these reasons, even during seasons when there is a less than ideal match, CDC continues to recommend flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older. Vaccination is particularly important for people at high risk for serious flu complications, and their close contacts.
Can I get vaccinated and still get the flu?
Yes. It’s possible to get sick with the flu even if you have been vaccinated (although you won’t know for sure unless you get a flu test). This is possible for the following reasons:
• You may be exposed to a flu virus shortly before getting vaccinated or during the period that it takes the body to gain protection after getting vaccinated. This exposure may result in you becoming ill with flu before the vaccine begins to protect you. (About 2 weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection develop in the body.)
• You may be exposed to a flu virus that is not included in the seasonal flu vaccine. There are many different flu viruses that circulate every year. The flu vaccine is made to protect against the three or four flu viruses that research suggests will be most common.
• Unfortunately, some people can become infected with a flu virus the flu vaccine is designed to protect against, despite getting vaccinated. Protection provided by flu vaccination can vary widely, based in part on health and age factors of the person getting vaccinated.
In general, the flu
vaccine works best among healthy younger adults and older children. Some older people and people with certain chronic illnesses may develop less immunity after vaccination. Flu vaccination is not a perfect tool, but it is the best way to protect against flu infection.
For more information on the flu clinic at the New Hanover County Health Department, call (910) 798-6646. For health-related news and information connect with the New Hanover County Health Department on social media: www.twitter.com/nhchealth and www.facebook.com/nhchealth

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