January 19, 2009


It’s not too late to get a flu shot


On Monday, Jan. 5, the Pitt County Memorial Hospital lab reported its first culture-confirmed influenza A case of the new season. A Pitt County man in his 40s was seen on Jan. 4 complaining of sudden onset of fever, dry cough, congestion, back pain and chills.

According to state public health officials, all indicators are that flu activity is accelerating. Approximately 30 of the 77 health care providers across the state, who participate in the state’s Influenza Sentinel Surveillance Program, and hospital emergency departments reported an increase in flu-like illness earlier this month, and the State Laboratory of Public Health had confirmed six cases by Jan. 5.

In North Carolina, flu season normally begins to increase after Christmas and usually peaks in late February or early March.

“The best way to prevent getting—and spreading—the flu is to get vaccinated,” said State Health Director Dr. Leah Devlin. “It’s not too late; the flu season is really just getting started here. Contact your health care provider or local health department about getting vaccinated.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has expanded its recommendations regarding flu vaccine. The CDC now advises all children from 6 months through 18 years of age be vaccinated against the flu. Vaccination is also recommended for any adults who want to protect themselves from the flu. Adults 50 and older, people with certain chronic medical conditions such as asthma, household contacts of people with chronic illnesses, pregnant women, and healthcare workers are particularly encouraged to get vaccinated.

No flu cases have been confirmed in Dare County as yet, says Anne Thomas, Director of the Dare County Department of Public Health (DCDPH). However, with flu season sometimes extending into May, she advises those who have not gotten a flu shot yet, to get one.

``If you haven’t gotten a flu vaccination at this point, getting vaccinated now can still provide you protection from the flu for the remainder of the flu season,’’ advises Thomas. ``Vaccine is still available.’’

The DCDPH has scheduled two flu vaccination clinics. Flu vaccinations will be available for adults by appointment only at the locations listed below:

•    Baum Senior Center – Kill Devil Hills. Friday, Jan. 23, from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

•    Dare County Department of Public Health – Manteo. Tuesday, Jan. 27, 1 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Please call the Dare County Department of Public Health Flu Line at 475-5003 starting Tuesday, January 20 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. to schedule an appointment for either location.

The cost of the shot is $32 payable by cash, check, Medicare, Medicaid or Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

Besides getting a flu shot, individuals can take other actions to stop the spread of the flu and other respiratory diseases:

•    Cover coughs and sneezes.
•    Use tissues and throw them away after each use.
•    Wash hands often.
•    If flu symptoms are present, stay home.

For more information about the flu or flu vaccinations, contact Cathi Ostrander, Clinic Operations Supervisor for DCDPH at 475-5025.


Children’s flu clinic scheduled

The Dare County Department of Public Health has scheduled a flu vaccination clinic for children. Free flu vaccinations will be available for children from ages 6 months through 18 years of age by appointment only at the Dare County Youth Center on Mustain Trail in Kill Devil Hills on Jan. 31 from 9 a.m. to noon.

Parents or guardians should call the Flu Line at 475-5003 starting Monday, Jan. 26, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to schedule appointments.

The Dare County Department of Public Health is recommending annual influenza vaccinations for children ages 6 months through 18 years of age. Again, there is no cost for children’s flu vaccine at this time.

For more information about the flu or flu vaccination, contact the Dare County Department of Public Health at 475-5003 or visit www.cdc.gov.




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