Did you get yours?

Published 9:15 am Monday, November 5, 2018

North Carolina has already reported its first flu death for the season.

Sixty-eight-year-old Kathy Hartenstine, a member of the Wake County school board, died in September from flu-related complications.

It is the young and the older generations that are disproportionally affected by the flu. And lately, the flu has been breaking some records.

Last flu season, 185 American children died from flu and flu-related complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s a historically high number. An estimated 80,000 other Americans died as well.

Last year was the deadliest flu season since 1976. It started in November and didn’t let up until March. For three consecutive weeks, all of the lower 48 states were simultaneously affected by flu. The number of cases was high across all age groups. Nine-hundred thousand people were hospitalized because of flu.

Yes, the flu vaccination is only approximately 40 percent effective — but that’s a 40 percent decrease in the likelihood of a person requiring hospitalization or that a person will die from flu.

The CDC recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months old gets a flu shot. It’s easy — just walk into any pharmacy. For children, it’s slightly different, depending on the state in which the child resides. But last year’s flu season is changing that. Until this year, New York pharmacists were not allowed to give flu shots to anyone under the age of 18. After the prevalence of cases last year, New York changed its law to make it easier for children to get flu shots: now pharmacists can administer flu vaccinations to anyone 2 years old and older.

In North Carolina, that age is 14 years old.

There are the tried and true ways of preventing flu and spreading flu: get a flu shot, wash hand frequently, put a hand over that cough and stay home if sick. Perhaps another to consider is lowering the age of children who can be administered a flu vaccine by a pharmacist.

It could save child’s life.