With flu season officially underway, the Texas Department of State Health Services urges everyone at least 6 months old to get vaccinated against the flu. A vaccination now will provide protection throughout the flu season, which runs through May.
“Flu is very unpredictable,” said DSHS Commissioner Dr. David Lakey. “We don’t know exactly what this flu season will look like, but we do know the flu is circulating in Texas and getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and your family.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone 6 months old or older be vaccinated against seasonal flu. The CDC also says that children under age 9 who are getting the flu vaccine for the first time should get two doses at least four weeks apart.
The flu is caused by various influenza viruses. Symptoms include fever, coughing, sore throat, aches, chills and fatigue. Most healthy people recover without problems, but people 65 and over, pregnant women, young children and people with chronic health conditions are at higher risk for serious complications and even death. It is especially important for people in those high-risk groups to be vaccinated.
The flu vaccine protects against three viruses and is reformulated each year to match the influenza viruses researchers expect to be circulating. This year’s vaccine will protect against the strains A/California/7/2009 (H1N1), A/Victoria/361/2011 (H3N2) and B/Wisconsin/1/2010.
In addition to getting vaccinated, people should help stop the spread of the flu and other illnesses by covering all coughs and sneezes, washing their hands frequently and staying home when sick.
People can contact their health care provider, local health department or dial 2-1-1 to find out where to get a flu shot.
Flu information and tips for protecting against the flu are at texasflu.org.