Charlotte, NC - With the recent unexpected flu vaccine shortage, the Mecklenburg County Health Department recommends citizens take several precautions to protect themselves from the flu.
"We are asking people to follow some simple steps to avoid the spread of influenza and other infections here in Mecklenburg County," according to Medical Director Dr. Stephen Keener. "We are also sending healthcare providers some guidelines and information about what to do during this shortage of flu vaccine."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following are recommendations to prevent the spread of the flu and other infectious diseases in the general population and for school-age children:
Avoid close contact
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
Stay home when you are sick
If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
Eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and exercise may help reduce susceptibility to the flu and other infections
Cover your mouth and nose
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
Clean your hands
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
Dr. Keener added that, "We are telling healthy people not to get the flu shot this year so that those at greatest risk will be able to get the shot." The Mecklenburg County Health Department will focus only on providing the flu vaccine to those at highest risk for developing complications from the flu. Those high-risk groups include:
- All children aged 6-23 months
- Adults 65 and older
- Persons aged 2-64 years with underlying chronic medical conditions
- All women who will be pregnant during the influenza season
- Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities
- Children aged 6 months-18 years on chronic aspirin therapy
- Health-care workers involved in direct patient care
- Out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of children aged less than 6 months.
The next regularly scheduled flu shot clinics will be held Monday, October 11, 2004 from 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. on the Health Department's northwest campus at 2845 Beatties Ford Road, and Tuesday, October 12, 2004 from 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. at the department's southeast campus at 249 Billingsley Road.
To make certain the public has the most up-to-date information on future flu clinic dates or times, call the Mecklenburg County Health Department Flu Clinic Information Hotline at 704-336-4667 before making a trip to the clinics.