State News

State health officials warn H1N1 flu not over

Posted February 26, 2010 5:58 a.m. EST
Updated February 26, 2010 7:31 a.m. EST

— North Carolina health officials said that seven H1N1-related deaths in the past month should serve as a warning that although the outbreak has peaked, it isn't over.

State Health Director Jeff Engel urged North Carolinians to get the H1N1 vaccine. In addition to the deaths, hundreds of people are hospitalized each week with flu-related complications, he said.

"The vaccine is safe and effective in preventing the flu," Engel said in a release Friday. "With plenty of vaccine on hand, there is no reason for anyone in North Carolina to fall victim to H1N1."

As of Feb. 20, nearly 1.7 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in North Carolina, officials said. That's about half of the 3.2 million doses that have been distributed to local health departments, doctors, schools and retail pharmacies.

Engel stressed that the Division of Public Health and local health departments are working to increase the number of vaccinations by taking free vaccine clinics to communities. He praised health providers' "creativity and stamina."

In Wake County, public health nurses are visiting child-care centers, and Cumberland County is holding clinics at churches on Sundays. Vaccinations are being offered during the CIAA basketball tournament in Charlotte, and universities are conducting an immunization campaign.

"Our goal is to make the vaccine as accessible as possible to anyone who wants it," Engel said.