Doctors urging people to get flu shots by end of October

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Despite low reported flu activity across the country, doctors and pharmacists are urging people to get their flu shots by the end of October.

"We've seen a little bit of an increase in the patients walking into Walgreens for their flu shots. And that's typical during October, given that it takes about two weeks for your body to build up the immune system needed to fight the influenza virus," explained Mohamed Aboemeara, a pharmacist and pharmacy manager at a Walgreen's in Angier.

Children under the age of five, particularly those 12 months and younger, and people 65 and older are particularly susceptible to the flu, as are those with a weakened immune system.

"Well thinking about young children, when you look at all the deaths directly related to the flu last year, 80% of the deaths in children were not vaccinated. So I'm not sure why continuation of mistrust in the flu vaccine," explained Dr. Joanne Fruth, the Medical Director for Avance Care.

Last season, 203 people died from the flu statewide, down significantly from two years ago where 391 people died.

Symptoms include a fever over 100.4 degrees, aching muscles, headache, sore throat, nasal congestion, fatigue and weakness.

"If you wait a little bit later, you just put yourself at a higher risk of acquiring the infection," said Aboemeara.

A recent report from the CDC also found that not enough pregnant women are getting the flu vaccine.

"Flu can be transmitted to an unborn child. So you want to protect your unborn child. But also it gives passive immunity for those first several weeks to months, because we don't give flu shots to babies or newborns until six months," said Dr. Fruth.

A 2018 study showed "that getting a flu shot reduced a pregnant woman's risk of being hospitalized with flu by an average of flu by an average of 40%."

There is particular concern this year, due in part to Australia's flu season, which is sometimes used as predictive of what the US will experience.

"Their flu season in Australia came about two months before it usually does, it can peak at a variety of times," explained Dr. Fruth.

Doctors also encourage people to wash their hands regularly, cover their mouth and nose when they sneeze or cough, and avoid large crowds whenever possible.

To learn more about the flu, click here.
Copyright © 2019 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.