Health officials in the Piedmont preparing for flu season

It seems like as soon as fall gets here, we're already on the lookout for flu-like symptoms.

“The flu is deadly. Every year, thousands of people die. We need to take this seriously,” said Dr. David Priest, director of infectious disease prevention at Novant Health.

It's a real and life-saving warning. Local hospitals report they have already seen cases of the flu. Normally, flu season runs from October through April. This comes after a severe flu season.

“Thousands of deaths in the United States and even more hospitalizations. So it was a bad year as far as flu seasons go,” Priest said.

According to the CDC, around 80,000 people died from the flu last winter in the United States. The Department of Health is reporting nearly 400 flu-related deaths in North Carolina last year.

“Last year, there were a couple of issues. One was that the vaccine was not quite as effective. It also depends on the actual strain there is,” Priest said.

Even if a vaccine is less effective, it's still enough to help protect you.

“Some people say, 'I still got the flu.' True. But if you had the vaccine and you get the flu it’s not nearly as bad as if you had not gotten the vaccine,” High Point Health Department Clinic nurse manager LaTanya Pender said.

High Point Health Department nurses are already prepping for the flu season.

“We make sure we have enough vaccines to get us through the end of the season," she said.

They also made a point to mention there are already confirmed cases of the flu in the Triad.

"We just impress on people they need to get the flu vaccine," she said.

If you don't get vaccinated, you could be putting other people at risk, especially the elderly, children and those with weak immune systems.

And for people who don't like needles, the nasal spray vaccine is available this year. It was not previously available because there were some concerns about how effective it is.