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'It isn't too late to vaccinate,' health director says, urging flu shots

Saying “it isn’t too late to vaccinate," Henderson County's public health director urged residents to get a flu shot.


 “We strongly encourage people to protect themselves by getting a flu shot this season if they haven’t already," Health Director Steve Smith said Tuesday. "Even healthy people can get the flu.”

Flu is widespread across Henderson County and the state, he said, which is why residents should take actions to prevent infection.

While recent reporting indicates that this year’s flu vaccine might not be a good match to the strain that is dominating flu activity this season, it is still important to receive a flu shot. While flu vaccine can vary in how well it works, it remains the best way to prevent flu illness and serious flu complications, including those that can result in hospitalization. Flu vaccine is not perfect, and some people who get vaccinated may still get the flu, but data suggests that flu vaccination may make illness milder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Vaccination protects people who are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill from flu, like older adults, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions, babies and young children,” Smith said.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ latest influenza summary report for the week ending January 4, 2020 announced 9 flu-related deaths for the week and a total of 21 flu-related deaths this season in our state.

Flu infections are usually most common from late fall to early spring in North Carolina, with peak activity usually occurring in January or February. The CDC recommends yearly vaccination against the flu for everyone 6 months and older.

Smith stated that in addition to the flu vaccine, there are other actions to take to limit the spread of flu. “Cover your mouth and nose with the inside of your elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing, wash your hands especially after coughing or sneezing, and most importantly, stay home if you are sick.”

Flu usually comes on suddenly and symptoms include some, or all, of the following: fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, and fatigue (tiredness). Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
If you are at risk for complications, your doctor may recommend antiviral medicine to prevent or to treat Influenza infection. Those at risk of pneumonia or hospitalization from the flu include children under age 2 years or those 65 and older, pregnant women, and those with chronic conditions such as lung diseases (Asthma or COPD) or diabetes. This medicine should be started within 48 hours of getting sick or exposed to the flu, so talk to your doctor if you are at risk of complications from the flu.

Flu shots are available in our community at the health department, private medical offices, hospitals and pharmacies. For more information on influenza and the vaccine, visit or call the Immunization Clinic at 828-694-6015.

The N.C. Division of Public Health posts updates on flu surveillance data every Thursday during flu season at