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Back You are here: Home News Local and State News State State Health Officials Encourage Flu Vaccination as Holiday Preparation

State Health Officials Encourage Flu Vaccination as Holiday Preparation

RALEIGH, N.C. : November 21, 2012 - Flu activity in North Carolina is higher than normal for this time of year, prompting state health officials to remind North Carolinians that now is the best time to get vaccinated for flu. “Holiday travel and visits with family may provide more opportunities for cold and flu germs to spread,” State Health Director Laura Gerald said. “Getting a flu vaccination now will reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and lessen the chance that you will spread it to friends and family.”
According to information collected by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Public Health, health care providers across the state, including college student health centers, already are seeing an increase in flu-like illness. “Last year, we had a mild flu season, but that is not necessarily an indicator of what we can expect this year,” said Dr. Gerald. “Our State Laboratory of Public Health handles flu tests for providers across the state and since the beginning of November, we have seen an increase in positive test results.”
Most influenza infections can be prevented by the simple act of getting the flu vaccine. Flu vaccines are safe and affordable and are the single most effective way to protect yourself and your family.
Flu vaccine is recommended for anyone over 6 months old. It is particularly important for people at high risk of complications, including pregnant women, people with chronic diseases, very young children and the elderly.
This year, flu vaccine is available in several forms, including:
• nasal spray for healthy, non-pregnant people age 2 to 49 years;
•  a regular flu shot for people ages 6 months and older;
• an intradermal flu shot which uses a needle 90 percent smaller than the regular flu shot and is approved for people 18 to 64 years of age; and
• a high-dose flu shot for people 65 and older.
Flu vaccine is widely available through doctors’ offices and health departments and is also available at many pharmacies, work places and other locations.
Flu season in North Carolina normally peaks in January or February.
In addition to vaccination, you can prevent the spread of flu and other illness by washing your hands frequently, staying home from work or school while you are sick, and covering coughs and sneezes.
More information about flu activity and flu vaccines as well as a convenient flu vaccine finder can be found at flu.nc.gov.
The New Hanover County Health Department began offering flu shots Tuesday, September 18. The shots are available by appointment Monday through Thursday from 8:15 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. and until 4:15 p.m. on Friday. 
Appointments can be made by calling (910) 798-6646.   Officials say their goal is to provide pleasant and efficient service for each customer in 20 minutes or less and will also provide the vaccine to persons with mobility issues in the comfort of their automobile.
New Hanover County residency is not required to receive a flu shot at the Health Department.  If your church, civic group or business is interested in the Health Department offering a flu clinic at your location, call 798-6529.  They will bring the flu clinic to groups of 20 or more persons. This year they are accepting Medicare/Medicaid, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of NC, United Health Care, Aetna, Cigna, Tricare, Health Choice, cash, check, Visa/MasterCard (credit or debit). Other things you can do to help protect yourself from the flu:
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
•  If you don't have tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.
• Put your used tissue in the wastebasket.
• Wash your hands with soap and water.
There is also a new recommendation for receiving Pneumovax (the pneumonia shot).  Adult tobacco smokers, ages 19 years and older, are now being urged to receive the vaccine, since they are at a heightened risk for respiratory infection.  Pneumovax vaccinations should be separated by five years and you should only receive two in your lifetime.  People in good health and do not smoke usually receive one Pneumovax vaccination at age 65 years or older.
For current information on the Flu Clinic at New Hanover County Health Department, call (910) 798-6676. This information line will be updated as necessary throughout the flu season.  For health-related news and information visit the New Hanover County Health Department online at http://www.nhcgov.com/Health and through social media at: http://www.twitter.com/nhchealth and http://www.facebook.com/nhchealth.