Health officials say more needs to be done to protect from flu

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Doctors are warning about the flu as millions travel for the holidays.

Experts predict this flu season to be severe.

North Carolina health officials believe more needs to be done to protect families from the flu.

Glenda Perez made sure her two young children got their flu shots.

“They've had it since, like, three months ago,” Perez said.

North Carolina’s influenza-like illness rate is at 4.9 percent. That's the way health officials measure the severity of flu season.

By Wednesday, North Carolina health officials expect it to reach 5 percent, meaning local hospitals have to do more.

“I think we typically see increase over the holiday season,” said Dr. Charles Bregier, medical director for Novant Health. “That means for hospitals in particular, employees who have not had the flu vaccine need to start masking and doing the extra protections to protect themselves and our patients from spreading the flu.”

Doctors say if the influenza-like illness rises between 7 to 10 percent, children under 12 will no longer be able to visit hospitals.

Experts will be watching those percentages in the coming weeks to see if that's something the state could put into effect this season.

Five people in North Carolina and South Carolina have died from the flu this season.

Doctors said there is still time to get your flu shot.

There is still a lot of concern over how effective this year's flu vaccine will be.

A study out of Australia shows the vaccine was only 10 percent effective against the predominant flu strain.

The United States typically mirrors Australia's flu season.

In a normal year, the vaccine is about 35 percent effective.