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Home / Health / In NC, fewer people were treated with flu vaccines last winter as the number of deaths increased

In NC, fewer people were treated with flu vaccines last winter as the number of deaths increased



Fewer than half of North Carolina's were treated with flu shots last winter, the lowest vaccination rate in six years, and a likely reason why the state has seen the most deaths from the flu in a decade.

Public health officials pointed out the discontinuation of the vaccinations released last week by the US Centers for Disease Control to remind residents to soon get flu vaccines before temperatures drop and the virus becomes more active.

The CDC data showed that flu shots decreased nationwide and averaged 37.1 percent nationwide last winter, in 37 states, falling from 43.3 percent in the previous flu season 2016/17. This decline is associated with 79,000 flu deaths nationwide, the highest number of flu deaths in more than three decades.

The decline was reflected in North Carolina, where vaccination rates were well above the national average. According to the CDC, the federal vaccination rate fell last year from 50.8 percent in the 201

6/17 flu season to 46 percent. At the same time, the number of influenza-related deaths in the state increased to 391, more than any year since the flu was reported in 2009 and monitored regularly in subsequent years.

"Every dropoff is worrying," said David Weber, specialist in infectious diseases, professor of pediatrics and epidemiology. "The lower the vaccination rate, the more likely it is that you have circulating flu."

Not only did fewer people in North Carolina get flu vaccinations last year, but it's been a marked decline in recent years. The federal state immunization coverage peaked at 52.4 percent in the winter of 2014-15 and was not below 50 percent since 2011/12, when it was 46.5 percent.

According to the CDC, 49 million people were diagnosed with influenza in the country last winter and 960,000 were hospitalized. These numbers are based on computer-generated mathematical formulas and not on the result of the combination of totals, so there are no corresponding numbers for North Carolina.

Why so few flu shots are given

Another contributing factor to the high number of people In the last winter, flu deaths were dominated by the H3N2 influenza strain, which is particularly virulent and vaccine resistant. The CDC said the vaccine used last winter was 40 percent overall but only 25 percent effective against H3N2.

The low efficacy of the flu vaccine and the continuing belief that you might get ill are probably the reasons why so few people came to their shot last winter, said Keith Ramsey, medical director of infection control at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville. He said that as a society, we are far from achieving the CDC's goal of vaccinating 90 percent of the population by 2020.

Ramsey reiterated the CDC's position that even a relatively ineffective vaccine reduces the severity of symptoms for those who become ill "Some antibodies are better than no antibodies."

Several doctors who have talked to The N & O said they regularly see patients who can not get vaccinated. Some patients say that the vaccine does not work, others believe it can get sick. The doctors said that the flu vaccine is made up of dead virus particles and can not make someone sick, although it can trigger an immune response that some people find painful and under the weather.

The influenza vaccine is adapted to the strains in circulation and is produced months before the flu season, which requires assumptions and inaccuracies.

"The flu shot is pretty good, but not great," said Paul Cook, an infectious disease specialist at East Carolina University's Brody School of Medicine. "The flu vaccine is a bit of a crap."

While the efficacy is lower than many other vaccines, it has a very high level of safety, Weber said.

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"This is an incredibly safe vaccine," said Weber. "The important thing is to take the vaccine."

Nasal Fog and High Pressure Nozzles

The CDC recommends flu shots for anyone over 6 months, but says that the vaccine is especially important for people, children and those with health complications such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease and obesity they are more susceptible to health complications resulting from a flu infection. Last winter, there were 290 flu-related deaths, ages 65 and over, and seven were under 18 years old.

Out of the dead, 42 percent were known to be vaccinated, and 58 percent were not vaccinated or had documentation of a flu vaccine, according to the NC Department of Health and Human Services.

For those who do not like needle syringes in the muscle, the CDC recommends a nasal spray flu vaccine for persons aged 2 years 49 years. However, unlike other flu vaccines, nasal fog is a living influenza virus that can cause infection and is not recommended for people with certain illnesses and sensitivities.

In addition, the CDC recommends two non-needle injections using a high-pressure jet injector that penetrates the skin instead. Both jet injectors are available for persons aged 18 to 64 years.

The NC Ministry of Health and Human Services has not reported a single death in the current flu season, which began on October 1, and the total number of values ​​updated once a week. However, at least one person died of influenza-related deaths before October 1: Kathy Hartenstine, 68, from the Wake County School Board, whose family said her death in September was caused by flu-related complications.


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