As Flu Season Returns, so Does the Need for Flu Vaccine

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Flu vaccine is now available in Texas, and the Texas Department of State Health Services reminds people that there is no reason to wait to be vaccinated. The number of flu cases will soon be increasing, so people should protect themselves and their families with flu shots now.

Everyone 6 months old and older should get vaccinated. People age 65 and older, pregnant women, young children and those with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease or kidney and liver disorders are more susceptible to serious influenza complications, so flu vaccine is especially important for them.

“People in these higher risk groups should also see their health care provider promptly if they do get the flu,” said Dr. Lisa Cornelius, DSHS Infectious Diseases Medical Officer. “A doctor can prescribe antiviral medications that can make the illness shorter and less severe and help prevent complications. Treatment works best if it is started within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.”

Influenza is an illness caused by one of a number of related viruses. Symptoms usually start abruptly and include fever, body aches, chills, a dry cough, sore throat, runny nose, headaches and extreme fatigue and can last a week or longer.

The flu vaccine is formulated every year to match the flu viruses researchers think will be circulating. Last year, changes in the flu virus caused the vaccine to be less effective. The strain that caused most of the illness last year is incorporated into this season’s vaccine, and researchers expect it to be much more effective.

All flu vaccines this season are made to protect against viruses similar to the strains A/California/7/2009 (H1N1), A/Switzerland/9715293/2013 (H3N2)and B/Phuket/3073/2013. Some vaccines will again provide protection against a fourth strain, B/Brisbane/60/2008.

While getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent the flu, people should also

  • Wash their hands frequently or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or their arm or sleeve.
  • Avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Keep a distance from people who are sick.
  • Stay home if sick.

People can contact their health care provider, local health department or local pharmacy or dial 2-1-1 to find out where flu shots are available. Flu information and tips for protecting against the flu are at texasflu.org.

Misty Boggs
Misty Boggs is the Creative Director at MSGPR. She lives in Angelina County and recently earned her bachelor's degree in Public Relations and a minor in Creative Writing at Stephen F. Austin State University in 2020. She is currently working on obtaining her MBA from Lamar University. Between studying and working, she enjoys teaching her niece and nephew the fine art of never growing old.

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