Sneads Ferry North Carolina: North Carolinians Can Find Flu Shots Online

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

North Carolinians Can Find Flu Shots Online

CCME website helps patients and providers

Cary, NC – For the eighth straight year, The Carolinas Center for Medical Excellence (CCME) is providing a Web-based list of flu clinics in the Carolinas. To find a clinic near you, visit CCME’s Flu Clinic Finder at www.thecarolinascenter.org/fcf. Last flu season, more than 3,595 flu clinics were listed on the Flu Clinic Finder, attracting more than 39,000 Web hits. This season, CCME expects to have just as many or more listings to provide you with an abundance of choices when you are ready to get your flu shot.

A vaccine to protect against 2009 H1N1 influenza (“swine flu”) is expected to be available this fall. This new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009 and is different from the flu virus that is typically experienced in the United States every flu season. The vaccine for seasonal flu is not expected to protect against the 2009 H1N1 flu.

In June, the World Health Organization declared the 2009 H1N1 flu a pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently estimated that, in the United States, more than one million cases of 2009 H1N1 flu have occurred. The symptoms of 2009 H1N1 flu are expected to be similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu. They include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, and coughing. Some people with swine flu also have reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds, and other social distancing measures. These measures will continue to be important after the 2009 H1N1 vaccine is available because they can prevent the spread of other viruses that cause respiratory infections.

Seasonal Influenza
Surveys by the CDC show that each year about 200,000 people in the United States are hospitalized, and about 36,000 people die because of the flu. Flu and pneumonia together constitute the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. Studies show that, in a typical year, more than 1,600 North Carolinians 65 years and older will die of complications from flu and pneumonia. Patients who get the flu are more likely to get pneumonia – one of the leading causes of death for older adults.

Last year, 73.0 percent of North Carolinians 65 years and older received the flu shot, while 68.7 percent received the pneumonia shot. The CDC reports that a disproportionate number of African Americans and Hispanic Americans refuse the flu shot each year. The Healthy People 2010 Goal remains at 90 percent for both pneumococcal and influenza immunizations.

The CDC has announced that December 6-12, 2009, is National Influenza Vaccination Week. This event is designed to highlight the importance of continuing influenza vaccination, as well as fostering greater use of the flu vaccine through the months of November, December, and beyond.

Medicare Covers Vaccines
For those who are Medicare-eligible, Medicare Part B covers the costs of the flu and pneumonia shots. To find a clinic near you, start by typing in your ZIP code at www.thecarolinascenter.org/fcf. Medicare will also cover immunizations for H1N1 influenza. There will be no coinsurance or copayment applied to this benefit, and people with Medicare will not have to meet their deductible. For more information on the Medicare policy for 2009 H1N1 influenza, visit the CMS website at www.cms.hhs.gov/H1N1/.

MYTHS ABOUT SEASONAL FLU

With flu season just around the corner, now is a good time to separate fact from fiction on the flu. Here are some common myths that may prevent some people from receiving flu shots:
Myth 1: The flu is dangerous only to the elderly. While the flu is especially dangerous to older adults, it is even more dangerous to those who have diabetes, chronic illness, or a weakened immune system. You’re also at higher risk if you live in a nursing home.
Myth 2: The flu shot can cause the flu. Not true! The flu shot is made from a killed virus, so it is impossible for the shot to give you the flu. The flu shot is your best weapon against the flu.
Myth 3: You don’t need a flu shot every year. You do need to get a flu shot every year because the flu virus changes from year to year.
Myth 4: After November, it’s too late to get the flu shot. While it’s true that the best time to get the shot is between mid-October and mid-November, the flu virus can be spread as late as March.
Myth 5: Flu and pneumonia shots are the same. The pneumonia shot is a different shot; it can be given any time during the year. Talk to your doctor about what’s best for you.
Myth 6: As long as I don’t eat or drink after someone who has the flu, I won’t get it. The flu is very contagious. In fact, if someone who has the virus coughs or sneezes near you, the virus can be spread to you through the air you breathe.

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