Free Flu Shots in South Texas
Texas health departments and pharmacies offer various influenza vaccination services
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), the current influenza season is in full-force throughout the state.
And this flu season is impacting Texas children.
As of December 28, 2019, Texas DSHS has confirmed 8 pediatric fatalities related to 2019-2020 influenza viruses. Four of these fatalities are related to Influenza B.
This data indicates the state of Texas has reported about 29 percent (8 of 27) of all pediatric fatalities in the USA confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) so far this flu season.
During 2017, there were 12 influenza-related pediatric fatalities confirmed in Texas.
In a Tweet posted on January 6th, Texas DSHS stated ‘influenza activity is high across the state and is above the Texas-specific influenza-like illness (ILI) baseline and the percentage of patient visits due to ILI has also increased.’
Since September 29, 2019, the CDC has reported antigenic characterization results from no influenza A (H3N2) viruses, 2 influenza A (H1N1) viruses and 3 influenza B viruses received from the Texas DSHS Laboratory, the Dallas County Health and Human Services Laboratory Response Network (LRN) Laboratory, and the Houston LRN Laboratory.
In response to this unfortunate news, various Texas cities have launched ‘free flu shot’ campaigns to reduce future influenza cases.
In San Antonio, the 7th largest city in the USA with over 1.5 million residents, the Metropolitan Health District announced on January 7th it wants to help reduce flu cases by giving away free flu shots at local immunizations clinics, while supplies last.
And in Corpus Christi, which is located on Gulf Coast, the local Health Department is offering 200 influenza vaccine doses on a first-come basis until January 17, 2020. Once this supply is exhausted, discounts flu shots may be offered to the public. Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Texas DSHS did report some good news.
There have not been any variant or novel influenza viruses detected in Texas during the 2019-2020 season. Nor has there been any institutional flu outbreaks or school closures.
People can help stop the spread of illness and reduce their chance of catching the flu by getting vaccinated, washing hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes and staying home if they're sick, says Texas DSHS.
"Although it's best to get a flu shot before flu is spreading, it's never too late. In bad years like this, it is especially important to get a flu shot immediately. This the best way to protect yourself and stop it from spreading to those you care about." said Crockett Tidwell RPh, CDE, Clinical Services Manager, Vaccine Specialist, with United Supermarkets Pharmacy.
"Getting vaccinated is especially important for people with chronic health conditions, pregnant women, young children, and older adults because they are at higher risk of developing serious complications from the flu," concluded Crockett.
Influenza is an illness caused by one of a number of related viruses. Symptoms usually start suddenly and include fever, body aches, chills, a dry cough, sore throat, runny nose, headaches, and extreme fatigue and can last a week or longer. It is important to note that not all flu sufferers will have a fever.
Additional flu information and tips are at TexasFlu.org.
To address the overall under-vaccinated population in Texas, during July 2019, the DSHS conducted Operation Lone Star for the 21st year.
Operation Lone Star delivered approximately 43,000 health services, including child vaccinations, to about 9,300 people in 2018.
In Texas, most pharmacies offer various influenza vaccines throughout the flu season.
The state of Texas participates in influenza surveillance by reporting the estimated level of influenza activity to the CDC every week during the influenza season (October to May).
Influenza activity levels are reported as no activity, sporadic, local, regional, or widespread.
Recent flu news
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Influenza news published by Precision Vaccinations.