Flu is now widespread throughout North Carolina and Transylvania County is starting to see flu cases, but it’s not too late to get your flu shot.

It can take up to two weeks for the antibodies in the flu vaccine to become effective, so it’s best to get vaccinated as soon as possible. But even if you’re not fully protected when you get exposed, the vaccine help make your illness shorter and less severe.

As long as the flu virus is active and causing illness, it’s not too late to be vaccinated. The flu season typically peaks between December and March, but can be active as late as May. A late vaccine can protect you against getting sick for the remaining flu season. In fact, even if you have already had the flu this year, the CDC still recommends that you get vaccinated to avoid getting sick again with a different strain of the virus.

Flu vaccine is still available at Transylvania Public Health. Immunizations are available on Fridays from 8:30am to 4:30pm and other days by appointment: call 828.884.3135. More information, including payment and insurance is available here.

Not to be confused with other illnesses like the norovirus stomach bug, flu is a respiratory virus that causes symptoms that include fever, chills, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, headache, and fatigue.

Flu can be a serious illness, especially for adults over age 65, children under 5, pregnant women, and those with a medical condition such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease. As of January 12, seven people in North Carolina have died from the flu, and other flu-related deaths likely go undiagnosed or unreported.

The CDC estimates that last season, flu vaccine prevented 5.1 million cases of flu, 2.5 million flu-related medical visits, and 71,000 flu-associated hospitalizations.

In addition to getting a flu vaccine, you can help prevent the spread of flu and other seasonal illnesses by washing hands frequently with soap and running water, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home if you are sick. Learn more about the flu and flu vaccines at www.flu.nc.gov.