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RALEIGH, N.C. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services encourages all North Carolinians to take time out of their holiday activities to get their annual flu vaccination.

According to State Health Director Laura Gerald, flu activity across the state is at the highest levels recorded in the past decade. Twelve flu-related deaths already have been reported in our state.

It is very unusual for us to see this many deaths so early in the flu season, Dr. Gerald said. This year s vaccine is well-matched to the strains of flu we are seeing in North Carolina so we strongly recommend that anyone over 6 months old be vaccinated.

Flu outbreaks have been reported in schools and long-term care facilities across the state. Although everyone is at risk, flu can be especially dangerous for people at high risk of complications, including pregnant women, people with chronic diseases, very young children and the elderly.

Because it takes about two weeks for immunity to develop after vaccination, getting an immunization between now and the start of the New Year should provide protection when individuals go back to work or school.

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