Health Team

What You Need to Know About Getting Your Flu Shot This Year

Posted September 12, 2007 4:15 p.m. EDT
Updated September 12, 2007 7:36 p.m. EDT

— More than 100 million doses of flu vaccine will be available during this flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But the problem, in the past, has been early delivery of the vaccine to places where people are used to getting their health care.

State epidemiologist Dr. Jeffrey Engel said large purchasers, such as retail stores and pharmacy chains often get the first vaccine supplies starting Oct. 1.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, which offers the vaccine at no cost to members with prevention-care benefits, and the North Carolina Medical Society are encouraging people to get flu vaccines from their primary care provider or public health clinic this year, instead of retail stores or pharmacy chains.

"It is best to establish a 'medical home,' where medical care for acute and chronic medical conditions, as well as preventive care, can occur," said Dr. Darlyne Menscer, president of the N.C. Medical Society.

Health officials said about 36,000 deaths – an average of 1,000 to 2,000 in North Carolina – from complications of the flu occur annually in the nation.

Those most at risk of death from the flu are those who are 65 or older; babies 6 to 23 months of age; people with diabetes, asthma, other chronic illness, or those with a compromised immune system.

Flu season runs from about November through May and usually peaks around midwinter.