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.
Texas Department of State Health Services
In 2012 there were more than 1,000 cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, in Texas, the Texas Department of State Health Services is issuing a health advisory urging immunization against the potentially lethal illness. The deaths in 2012 were the most for a single year since 2005. In 2011 there were 961 total Texas cases of pertussis, down from a peak of 3,358 in 2009.
Five of the deaths were among infants under two months old, the age at which the first pertussis vaccination is recommended. This underscores how important it is for parents and others around newborns to make sure they have received the recommended doses of vaccine. The sixth death was of an unvaccinated older child with underlying medical conditions.
Pertussis is a very contagious bacterial illness usually spread by coughing or sneezing. It often starts with cold-like symptoms and a mild cough. After a week or two, severe coughing can begin. The symptoms are usually milder in teens and adults but can be life threatening for young children because of the risk of apnea, a pause in breathing.
To protect babies, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and DSHS recommend pregnant women get a pertussis vaccine any time after 20 weeks gestation. Others who will be around infants should also get a shot: fathers, older siblings, other caregivers and health care professionals like doctors and nurses who care for babies.
Doctors who suspect pertussis should report the case to their local health department as soon as possible to help stop the disease from spreading. Patients who have pertussis should not go back to work or school until they’ve had five days of antibiotic treatment.
The complete health advisory, including recommendations for vaccination for all ages, is available at http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/news/releases/PertussisAdvisory-090612.pdf.
Visit us on the web at http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/
If you have patients who are entering a Texas college or university this fall please let them know they need to have a meningococcal vaccine before they enter college. If you do not offer the vaccine in your practice please refer your patients to a community vaccinator such as a neighborhood pharmacy.
REQUIREMENT – As of January 1, 2012, all entering college and university students are required to show proof of an initial meningococcal vaccination or a booster dose during the five-year period before enrolling. They must get the vaccine at least 10 days before the semester begins. (Chapter 21, Subchapter T, Sections 21.610 through 21.614)
DEFINITIONS – Who is an entering college student?
• a first-time student of an institution of higher education or private or independent institution of higher education
• a transfer student
• a student who previously attended an institution of higher education before January 1, 2012, who is enrolling in the same or another institution of higher education following a break in enrollment of at least one fall or spring semester
Which students are not required to comply with this vaccine requirement?
The following students are exempt from the vaccine requirement:
• a student 30 years of age or older by the first day of the start of the semester
• a student enrolled only in online or other distance education courses
• a student enrolled in a continuing education course or program that is less than 360 contact hours, or continuing education corporate training
• a student enrolled in a dual credit course which is taught at a public or private K-12 facility not located on a higher education institution campus
• a student incarcerated in a Texas prison
VACCINE COST – The vaccine can cost more than $100.00. Insurance coverage is changing and now many insurance plans cover the cost of the vaccine. Please check with your patient’s insurance carriers to see if they cover the cost of the vaccine. In addition, patients who are 18 years of age or younger, without private insurance, may be eligible to participate in the Texas Vaccines for Children Program.
MORE INFORMATION – For more information go to www.CollegeVaccineRequirements.com or call the Texas Immunization Information Line at 1-800-252-9152.
ImmTrac, the Texas immunization registry, has expanded to include adults. The Texas Department of State Health Services says the tool that’s been keeping track of children’s immunizations since 1997 will help all Texans know exactly which immunizations they’ve had.
With adults able to enroll in ImmTrac, people who provide consent can have their vaccine information stored electronically in a secure, confidential registry. ImmTrac allows people to request a copy of their record at any time, and doctors and schools can look up a person’s immunization history on the spot, avoiding unnecessary vaccinations.
“Most people associate immunization records with enrolling kids in school, but adults may need their records, too,” said Dr. Adolfo Valadez, DSHS Assistant Commissioner for Prevention and Preparedness. “ImmTrac keeps records in one place making it easy to know when you need an additional immunization, and when you don’t.”
Adults often need copies of their records for work, travel or school or due to concerns about an illness. Over time immunization records may be lost and can be difficult to piece together quickly.
Doctors or other health care providers who are registered ImmTrac users can enroll patients of any age and confirm the consent necessary to have records stored in the system. People who were enrolled in ImmTrac as children must provide consent as adults for their records to remain in the registry once they turn 18. If that consent isn’t given by age 19, the childhood records are removed.
Find more information about ImmTrac and immunization schedules for adults and children at www.dshs.state.tx.us/immunize.
Health care professionals are invited to participate (at no charge) with JNCPHD staff in the following webinar trainings:
Thursday, January 27, 2011: 12:00 noon – 1:30 p.m.
Center for Health Training
Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC): Myths and Facts
Thursday, February 3, 2011: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon
Current issues in Immunizations
Recommended Immunization Schedules for Persons Aged 0 through 18 years
Wednesday, February 9, 2011 12:00 noon – 1:30 p.m.
Center For Health Training
Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC): Clinical Update
Thursday, February 10, 2011: 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Center For Health Training
Sexual Abuse and Coercion Counseling: Part II: A Case-Based Webcast
Monday, February 14, 2011: 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Center for Health Training
A Clinical Update on Intrauterine Contraception
Call (409)384-6829, Ext. 250 to register.
All webinars wils be held at the Jasper office of the Jasper Newton County Public Health District
139 West Lamar
Jasper, Texas 75951