Our View: Take precautions against the flu


Rocky Mount Telegram

Monday, February 12, 2018

While the flu season usually hits it peak in February, medical officials see no end in sight to this year’s season and urge people to continue to take precautions against it.

State Health officials announced Thursday there were 34 flu deaths in North Carolina last week. That marks the highest one-week total since flu season began in October and the fourth straight week that the death toll has exceeded the previous week's total. The state has had 140 flu-related deaths since the season began, with 108 of them occurring in the past four weeks.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the flu was widespread in every state except Hawaii during January and estimates that by the end of the season, about 34 million Americans are expected to have been infected by the flu.

This year’s flu season started earlier than usual, prompting medical experts to expect it also to peak earlier. But that has not been the case. The CDC reported that flu season has shown no signs of curtailing but instead has continued to intensify across the country, with 42 states reporting high patient traffic for the flu during the last week of January, up from 39 the previous week.

We urge everyone to heed the advice of health officials and continue to be vigilant in taking precautions against the flu. Wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing and stay home from work or school if you get the flu — but most importantly, get a flu shot if you haven’t done so already.

The CDC urges flu shots for everyone 6 months old and older, with rare exceptions, as soon as possible because the body takes about two weeks to produce a full immune response. Even people who have already had the flu and recovered should still get vaccinated if they haven’t, because although they have developed an immunity to the strain that infected them, they are still vulnerable to other strains.

And a flu shot doesn’t just protect you: Adults can infect others starting a day before flu symptoms develop and for up to five to seven days after becoming sick. Children can pass the virus for longer than seven days.

While it may seem like spring is just around the corner, that’s no reason to let down your guard against the flu. It’s still out there, and it’s still spreading.