Flu season strikes, but it’s not too late to vaccinate

Posted 2/7/19

BY RANDALL RIGSBEE

News + Record Staff

Reports of flu are increasing after the season, which began last fall and continues into spring, got off to a slow start.

While not seeing numbers like …

Please register for an account to continue reading

You can view up to 3 stories each month, then registration is required.

If you have an account with us, please log in below to continue.

Otherwise, please register for an account here. Registration is easy, and takes just a minute.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Flu season strikes, but it’s not too late to vaccinate

Thanks for reading Chatham County’s leading news source! Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing to the News + Record – you can do so by clicking here.

Posted

Reports of flu are increasing after the season, which began last fall and continues into spring, got off to a slow start.

While not seeing numbers like last year — the 2017-2018 flu season was among the worst on record with 900,000 people hospitalized nationwide and 80,000 flu-related deaths reported, according to the Centers for Disease Control — health officials say the contagious illness continues spreading and posing a serious health threat, particularly to the very young and old.

Lab testing at Chatham Hospital in Siler City identified 60 positive influenza A specimens through the end of January, said Tom Hughes, spokesman for UNC Health Care. Eight patients were admitted to the hospital for flu-related illnesses, all of whom have since been released.

As a precaution, Chatham Hospital implemented visitor restrictions (no visitors age 12 and under for inpatient units and the OR area) in the last week of December.

“Here at UNC Hospitals [in Chapel Hill], so far this flu season we have had a total of 203 cases in which people tested positive for influenza, and there have been three deaths,” Hughes said. “The number of cases we have seen so far is lower than what we had seen up to the same point last year, but there was a bit of a jump in the week of January 20-26. We had 41 lab-confirmed influenza cases that week, compared to 32 in the preceding week.”

Chatham County Public Health Department officials, however, warn the season isn’t over.

“In the state and around this area, we are beginning to see a small uptick in influenza-like illness (ILI) as we get closer to the height of flu season,” said Mike Zelek, division director of health promotion and policy with the Chatham County Public Health Department.

That doesn’t mean it’s too late to protect yourself.

“There is still time and it is still beneficial to get a flu shot,” Zelek said. “The CDC recommends vaccination against the flu for everyone 6 months and older with any licensed, age-appropriate flu vaccine.”

Vaccination against the flu can make illness milder and reduce the risk of more serious outcomes, making it especially important for those at higher risk of complications, such as people over 65 years old, children younger than 5, pregnant women and those with certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease and obesity, Zelek said.

The Chatham County Public Health Department has the vaccine available and anyone can call 919-742-5641 to schedule an appointment.

“In addition to the flu shot, practicing good personal hygiene habits, such as frequent hand washing with soap, covering coughs and sneezes with tissue or sleeve, and staying home when ill, helps to prevent the spread of the flu,” said Zelek. “Our advice around the flu can be summed up with these main strategies: get a flu shot, practice good personal hygiene, stay home from work or school if you are ill, and see your medical provider if you develop symptoms that may require medical attention.”

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment