Health officials urge flu vaccination before winter spike

RALEIGH, N.C. (WITN) – The typical winter flu spike is approaching, and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting vaccinated before then.

North Carolina health officials noticed a decrease in flu vaccinations compared to previous years and urge everyone 6 months and older to get a flu shot before the end of October, as flu season 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,” Dr. Elizabeth Tilson, NCDHHS state health director and chief medical officer said. “Get your annual flu vaccine to prevent severe illness and more serious outcomes.”

The department stresses the importance of high-risk people getting the shot. This includes people who are 65 and older, children under 5, pregnant women, and those with asthma, diabetes, and heart disease.

The DHHS also assures people that the 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’s 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 could have the flu should contact their healthcare provider immediately to see if they need treatment with prescription antiviral medicine.

For more information, you can access the My Spot website for resources, guidance. frequently asked questions, and a new PSA.

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