Health officials confirm first death of flu season

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The team looked at negative and positive moods, physical activity, diet and sleep three times a week for six weeks in a group of 138 older people due for a flu shot.

The Health Care Agency will offer free seasonal flu vaccinations beginning November 1 for those age 6 months or older who don't have health insurance.

"The best protection against the flu is to get vaccinated, and the time to do it is now", Wooten added.

"I'm originally from the West, and there's already been a huge spike in hospitalizations out there for influenza", said Tadolini, a native of Colorado. By comparison, the vaccine in the flu shot is 40 to 60 percent effective in most flu seasons, according to the CDC.

So far this season, 203 lab-confirmed influenza cases have been reported, compared with 60 at this same point previous year.

"It's not something to trifle with, and that's why we emphasize getting vaccinated", says Dr. Christopher Ryan, Medical Director at the Health Department.

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The influenza viruses that circulate and cause illness each winter change and therefore each year the flu vaccine is changed to try and match the circulating strains, in order to give best protection.

Less often, a person may also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own eyes, nose, or mouth.

For treatment, Wagner says that unfortunately not much can be done since the flu is a virus.

"That's a myth. The immune system is going to respond to the flu shot, so you might wind up with a sore arm or mild symptoms, but you won't get the flu", she said.

The New Hanover County Department of Public Health offers the quadrivalent vaccine and the high dose vaccine, recommended for adults 65 and older.

Getting an annual flu shot decreases the risk of getting the flu. It sure beats the pain and discomfort of getting sick, feeling miserable, spending money on medications and doctor's visits, and possibly spreading flu to someone for whom it could be life-threatening.

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