Less than half of adults in North Carolina got a flu shot in the past 12 months, according to a recent High Point University survey.
The Survey Research Center poll released Thursday showed that 56 percent of people said they had not received a flu shot in the past year. Seventy-one percent said they had not had a flu-related doctor visit in the past year.
“In North Carolina, we still have some work to do with educating our residents about the importance of getting the flu vaccine each year,” HPU pharmacy professor Dr. Joy Greene told the News & Record. “During the 2015-2016 flu season, the CDC estimated that 310,000 people were hospitalized for flu-related illness. Some of these hospitalizations may have been prevented if more people would have received their flu vaccine.”
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Despite a lack of flu-related treatment, 62 percent of those polled also said they are living somewhat healthy lifestyles. But 44 percent said their health is worse today than it was 20 years ago, compared to 41 percent who reported better health today.
The results come at the start of what health officials have warned may be a nasty flu season in the United States. A particularly bad flu season was reported in Australia, which has served as a rough measuring stick for the flu season that follows in the Northern Hemisphere.
Since flu season in the United States generally runs from October through the following spring, and since it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to kick in, the CDC recommends people get flu shots no later than the end of October if possible. Though that ship has sailed, the CDC still recommends that people get a flu shot as soon as possible.
Here’s some general information on the flu, and some information specific to the upcoming flu season in the United States.
What is influenza and its symptoms?
Flu viruses infect the lungs, nose and throat, and though the effects can be mild for some people, they can also be deadly.
Common symptoms include fevers, sore throats, body aches, headaches, chills and fatigue.
When is flu season?
The months when flu season has peaked most often in the U.S. over the past 34 years are February (14 seasons), December (7), March (6) and January (5).
Need to know for the 2017-18 flu season
The nasal spray flu vaccine (live attenuated influenza vaccine) should not be used for the 2017-18 season. The CDC recommends the flu shot (inactivated influenza vaccine) or the recombinant influenza vaccine for the upcoming season.
The CDC maintains a list of its latest vaccination recommendations.
How do people get the flu?
Influenza is contagious. It is believed that droplets created when someone with the flu coughs, sneezes or talks spread to the mouths or noses of people close by, according to the CDC.
It is possible but less likely to get the flu from touching something that has the virus on it and then touching your eyes, mouth or nose.
Who is mostly at risk?
Everyone is susceptible, even people in good health. But certain people – including those over 65 years of age and people of any age with existing illnesses or certain health conditions, however, are considered at higher risk of serious complications from the flu, per the CDC.