Public health officials say the flu shot is the single best defense against the flu.
"It's definitely not too late get a flu vaccine," said Dr. Zack Moore, with the N.C. Department of Public Health. "We're not at the peak of flu activity yet. Even if we were at the peak, we'd still have half the season to go."
High demand for flu shots has put some strain on supply. Some smaller pharmacies ran out this week. However, most of the larger chain pharmacies and many doctors still have them in stock.
The news comes as public health officials say a third person in Guilford County has died from the illness.
The Department of Health and Human Services says that brings the total number of flu deaths across North Carolina so far this season to eight.
One Wake County doctor told ABC11 that he's now seeing a spike in flu cases.
"We are definitely seeing an uptick in the number of cases," said Dr. Scott McGeary.
McGeary says just this past weekend his urgent care clinic was full of flu patients.
Some people are more susceptible than others to the dangers of the flu. Typically, children under two, pregnant women, and people with asthma, diabetes and heart disease are the most at risk of the flu escalating.
"It really irritates the lining of the lungs," said McGeary. "As a result of that, it sets you up for secondary bacteria, pneumonia. It's really the pneumonia that is typically, not always, that is the biggest danger in influenza."
To fight the flu, McGeary says prevention is key with a flu shot, and if you do catch it, he prescribes plenty of rest.
In some cases, your doctor will prescribe Tamiflu. However, McGeary warns right now pharmacies are running out quickly. So you may need to call ahead and check before dropping off your prescription.
On Monday, Duke said that it was restricting visitation at all Duke University Health System hospitals because of the rise in flu infections across the Triangle.
The visitor restrictions imposed at all Duke Hospitals now include:
- Ambulatory surgery patients being limited to immediate family or designated care givers, 18 and older.
- Those who are not sick with the flu.
- Patients can't have more than two adult visitors at once.
These restrictions are temporary and similar to what were in place last year at this time.
Flu season typically peaks during January and February.
The state will release its latest flu data on Thursday.