The Haywood County Health Department is encouraging citizens to get vaccinated against seasonal influenza by offering free flu vaccines, while supplies last.
Flu activity in Haywood County has been light so far, according to the Haywood County Health Department, but North Carolina recorded its first flu-related death in a child in January and continues to see widespread activity.
“We’ve been fortunate so far, but we still have plenty of time left in flu season,” said Haywood County Health Director Carmine Rocco. “We are seeing an increase in flu activity statewide, which is normal for this time of year. I expect flu activity to increase locally and we may see a peak in flu-like activity in the next month.”
In January, the North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services reported that a North Carolina teenager died due to complications from an influenza infection. The child had not received the flu vaccine this season.
“The death of this healthy young person is a tragic reminder of the potentially devastating effects flu can have on people at any age,” said State Health Director Dr. Jeff Engel in a DHHS news release. “Most flu infections can be prevented by getting the vaccine. Flu vaccine is readily available and affordable this year, and is the single most effective way to protect yourself and your loved ones.”
The Raleigh News & Observer reported last week that an 18-year-old high school senior had died of complications from H1N1 flu. One out of four flu deaths last year were in healthy people with no underlying medical problems. This year’s vaccine protects against three strains of influenza, including H1N1.
The flu vaccine is recommended for anyone over 6 months old and it is especially important for people at high risk of complications, including pregnant women, people with chronic diseases, very young children and the elderly.
“The vaccine is an excellent match for all three strains of flu we are seeing nationally and in our state,” Engel said. “A good vaccine match can reduce the chances of getting influenza by up to 90 percent.”
Seasonal flu is most deadly for very young children and senior citizens. However, the 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak
disproportionately affected middle-aged adults and young people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that more than 12,000 people died from H1N1 in 2009, including more than 10,000 who were under 65 years old.
The Health Department has approximately 2,000 doses of flu vaccine. To schedule an appointment for a free flu vaccination, please call the Haywood County Health Department at 828-452-6675 or for more information please call the health department’s flu line at 828-356-1111. Appointments are encouraged, but walk-ins will be accepted from 9:00 am to noon on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
For more information, contact:
David Teague, Public Information Officer
828-452-7305; 828-400-9691 or