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Flu Vaccine Supplies Running Low In NC: How To Find One

Flu Vaccine Supplies Running Low In NC: How To Find One

CHARLOTTE, NC — Flu-related deaths are on the rise in North Carolina, with nearly two dozen deaths attributed to influenza in the state’s most recently weekly report. As flu season kicks into high gear in the Tar Heel state, however, some pharmacies in the state are running low on vaccines, according to a report.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ most recent flu report, 21 influenza-related deaths occurred in the state between Jan. 14 and 20, bringing the statewide death toll this flu season to 67.

During that same period, the flu was reported as widespread throughout the United States, accounting for seven pediatric flu-related deaths in a week, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

"It has been a tough flu season so far this year. And while flu activity is beginning to go down in parts of the country, it remains high for most the U.S., with some areas still rising," said Dr. Dan Jernigan, director of the Influenza Division in the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at CDC during a Jan. 26 flu update.

Jernigan said that while country is thought to be about halfway through the flu season and that there is still benefit in getting a flu shot, some parts of the country are reporting flu vaccine shortages.

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"CDC is in regular contact with influenza antiviral manufacturers regarding supply and other issues," Jernigan said. "Some manufactures are reporting delays in filling orders and CDC is aware of spot shortages of antiviral drugs specifically for alsotamiver suspension and for generic alsotamavir capsules, these are happening in some places where there high influenza activity."

Some pharmacies in the Raleigh, North Carolina area are running low or are completely out of the vaccine, according to a News & Observer report. The shortages are likely "temporary localized shortages," North Carolina Board of Pharmacy Executive Director Jack Campbell IV told the newspaper. Pharmacists must place orders months ahead of time and likely will not receive extra shipments, which means people seeking a flu shot will likely need to call around to confirm they are in supply. "This is why it’s a good idea to get your flu shot early in the year," he told the newspaper.

You can also get a snapshot of flu vaccine availability with the online resource, Flu Vaccine Finder.

Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, body aches, headaches and fatigue. The flu virus is spread through the air, from coughing and sneezing, or by touching something that someone with the virus has touched.

You can pass the flu to someone else before and while you are sick. And according to a new study, it may be easier to spread the flu than previously thought. Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Public Health found that people infected with the flu can spread the virus in the air just by breathing — even if they don’t cough or sneeze.

The first flu-related death of a child in North Carolina was reported in late December 2017. "If anything positive comes from this tragic loss, we hope it will be that people understand that flu is a serious illness," Dr. Zack Moore, the state epidemiologist, said in a North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ statement at the time. "Flu vaccination is the most effective protection against flu, and it’s still not too late to get a flu shot."

SEE ALSO: 6-Year-Old With Flu Told She’d Be OK; She Died That Day

The particularly bad season is attributed to infections from a flu strain known as H3N2. It doesn’t respond well to vaccinations and is particularly dangerous to young children and older adults over the age of 65.

Here are tips to avoid the flu and curb its spread, provided by the Centers for Disease Control:

Stay home if you are sick. With the exception of seeking medical care, do not go out until 24 hours after your fever has subsided without the use of medication. Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. Clean and disinfect surfaces that may have become contaminated with germs. Avoid others who are sick. Cough or sneeze into a tissue. Throw away tissues after use.

To treat the flu, use over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or cough syrup to relieve symptoms. Rest in bed and drink lots of fluids. If you contact your doctor within 48 hours of onset of symptoms, you may be able to take an antiviral drug, which will reduce the severity of symptoms and length of the illness.

You can be contagious from one day before and up to seven days after becoming sick.

So far, the 2018 flu season has not reached historic levels, but it is on par with the worst flu season in recent years, the 2014-2015 season. As with any flu virus, the people most at risk are the elderly, children under five, pregnant women and people with chronic diseases.

Patch Editor Deb Belt contributed to this report.

Photo via Pixabay

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