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Flu cases rising; Health Department urges immunization Print
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For more information, contact:
David Teague, Public Information Coordinator
Haywood County
828-452-7305; 828-400-9691 or
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So far, the 2007-08 flu season has been rather quiet in Haywood County and other parts of western North Carolina, but that may change soon, based on the latest data released by the state.

Earlier this week, state Health Director Leah Devlin issued a statement saying that flu cases have become widespread in North Carolina and that residents should take actions to prevent infections.

In a press release issued Thursday, Feb. 7, by the North Carolina Dept. of Health and Human Services, Devlin urged residents to contact their local health departments and health care providers to get vaccinated.

“It’s not too late to vaccinate,” Devlin stated in the press release.

Haywood County Health Director Carmine Rocco echoed Devlin’s statement and said the health department still has plenty of flu vaccine available.

“Seasonal flu can range from November to May, with the heaviest concentrations typically occurring between November and March,” Rocco said. “It is still quite possible for Haywood County to experience a significant outbreak of the flu. We have about 1,000 doses of the vaccine available, so I hope people will get immunized before we run out.”

The state monitors flu-like illness throughout the season by collecting data from health care providers throughout the state and periodically releasing updates. Flu-like illness includes a temperature of 100 degrees or more, as well as cough or sore throat.

According to a report released on Feb. 7 for the week ending Feb. 2, health care providers across North Carolina reported 4.87 percent of the patients seen had flu-like symptoms. That is higher than the 3-percent peak for last year’s flu season, which came in late December; and higher that the peaks for the previous four seasons. A record peak of 7.7 percent was recorded in mid-December 2003.

The Haywood County Health Department has administered 6,500 doses of flu vaccine this year, which Rocco said was on par for last year. However, health department data indicates that fewer people may have been vaccinated at physicians’ offices this year as compared to last. No data is available on how many residents received the vaccine at community business locations. 

The Health Department continues to schedule appointments for flu and pneumonia immunizations at their offices at 2177 Old Asheville Rd. in Waynesville. Adults and children who need immunization can contact the health department at 452-6675 and schedule an appointment.

 

The cost of the flu vaccine is $25 and the pneumonia vaccine is $28. Children who qualify may receive the flu vaccine for free. Citizens are advised to bring Medicaid or Medicare/Unicare cards with them to the clinics. Cash or personal checks will also be accepted. A receipt will be provided for insurance purposes.

 

Flu is a contagious illness caused by influenza viruses that are spread by breathing in or touching respiratory droplets that have been coughed or sneezed into the air or onto surfaces, such as counter tops or hands, by someone who is ill. According to the health department, viruses may be passed one day before the person develops symptoms and five days after the individual becomes sick, making it possible for one person to infect another before they even know they are ill.


Seniors, children aged 6-59 months, pregnant women, anyone living in a nursing home or long term care facility, and those with certain health conditions like congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes, are considered to be more prone to developing serious complications from the flu such as bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of their medical problems.

 

For more information on flu vaccines and any additional clinics, contact the Haywood County Flu Line 24 hours a day at 356-1111.  If you have medical questions about the flu or the flu vaccine, listen for directions during the recorded message and someone will assist you if you call during normal business hours, which are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.

 

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