Last updated: January 14. 2014 2:18PM - 346 Views

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It’s hard to say exactly how many residents haven’t gotten their flu shot yet, but we are imploring you to do so today. Failing to get the vaccination could be detrimental to your life and, what’s more, the lives of those you love.

The numbers speak for themselves: According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, 22 deaths have now been linked to infection with season influenza, and 19 of those have been young or middle-aged adults, most who had underlying medical conditions. Only two deaths have been reported so for in citizens over 65 and one, which was most recent, was an infant.

Those should be sobering facts, the statistics you need to make the right choice to get vaccinated, particularly since health officials will tell you that the shot is the best protection against flu. That’s especially true, they say, for those who are pregnant, people who are obese and people who have medical conditions like heart or lung disease that place them at higher risk for severe illness.

With flu activity widespread in the state since mid-December and expected to remain high over the next month or longer, we believe residents should heed warnings from health officials.

The shot is relatively painless, generally covered by most health insurance, Medicaid and Medicare and relatively inexpensive for those who have to pay out-of-pocket. And, we believe it’s worth every penny, particularly given the alternative could be death.

Health officials say it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu, the exclamation point to any thoughts of delaying getting the shot.

In addition to being vaccinated, it’s also wise to follow a few simple precautionary measures that will help ensure the bug doesn’t spread, like washing your hands often with soap and water and staying away from those who have been diagnosed with the flu. And, if you suspect you are coming down with flu-like symptoms, health officials also urge seeing a doctor quickly, noting that early treatment is an important second line of defense for those who become ill.

For those with questions, we urge calling your physician or the local health department. Arm yourself with the facts and then heed the warnings. It might be the most important action you take.

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