State Health Department encourages flu shots

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By Staff Report

With flu cases already appearing in the state, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos is encouraging all North Carolinians to protect themselves by getting the flu vaccine.

This year’s vaccine protects against the strains of flu that are expected to circulate this year, including H1N1.  Flu shots are available from public health nurses at the Brunswick County Health Department, 25 Courthouse Drive in Bolivia from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday without an appointment. The regular flu shot is $38, flu mist is $47 and high-dose vaccine for those 65 and older is $56. Cash, checks, Medicaid, Medicare, Aetna, Carolina Access, BCBS, Cigna, Medcost, Tricare, and United Healthcare insurance are accepted. Vaccination information is added to the North Carolina State Immunizations Registry. Call 253-2344 for more information or go to www.brunsco.net/Departments/HealthRelated/Health.aspx.

It is too soon to tell how severe this year’s influenza season will be, but “several H1N1 cases recently reported in our state serve as a good reminder that it's not too early to be vaccinated,” Wos said in a news release.  “Even healthy people can get very sick if they get the flu and nobody wants to be out of work or school for an extended period. It’s important to remember that we all can help keep our co-workers and our families healthy by being vaccinated.”

 DHHS also encourages everyone to take these precautions to protect against the spread of flu and other viruses:

·      Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then discard the tissue promptly.

·      Wash hands frequently, preferably with soap and water or an approved hand sanitizer.

·      Stay home when you are sick until you are fever free for at least 24 hours.

DHHS recently implemented a mandatory flu vaccine policy for its 14 state-operated health-care facilities. This is intended to curb the spread of flu among staff, residents, patients, volunteers and their families and close contacts. 

DHHS has distributed nearly 200,000 doses of vaccine thus far to local health departments and health-care providers to immunize children eligible for the Vaccines for Children Program, as well as certain uninsured adults who qualify for state-supplied vaccine.

In addition to state-supplied vaccine, many employers, local community organizations and pharmacies offer or sponsor flu clinics. Most insurance plans and Medicaid cover flu vaccinations.