January 9, 2009
With the height of the Texas flu season approaching, Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) officials are reminding people that getting the flu vaccine and taking some simple health precautions can reduce the risk of getting the flu.
“It's not too late to get a flu vaccination, one of the best protections against getting and spreading the flu,” said Dr. David Lakey, DSHS Commissioner. The peak of the Texas flu season usually is in January and February. It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to become effective.
“Take flu seriously,” Lakey said. “Its complications lead to about 36,000 deaths a year in the United States. About 100 of those who die are children.”
Vaccination is recommended for people ages 6 months and older. Flu vaccines are available in shot and nasal spray forms. Only healthy people ages 2 to 49 years who are not pregnant may receive the spray form. The flu vaccine can be given at any time during the season, which typically runs from October to May in Texas.
DSHS health officials offer these additional precautions:
- Wash hands frequently with either soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
- Cover coughs and sneezes;
- Stay home if you’re sick.
People wanting the flu vaccine should call their health care provider, local public health department, 2-1-1 or check online at www.211Texas.org about availability.
Flu is not a reportable condition in Texas, but DSHS relies on reports from a surveillance network to classify flu activity in the state.
(News Media: For more information contact Emily Palmer, DSHS Assistant Press Officer, 512-458-7400.)