Flu Shots

University of Texas System

It may not feel like it, but it's flu season. Though the virus typically reaches its peak in winter, when exactly are you supposed to get your flu shot? 

Dr. Coburn Allen, an infectious disease specialist, physician and associate professor of pediatrics at UT Austin's Dell Medical School, says, like many factors surrounding the flu, it's all about timing. 

Lifetime. Education/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

Since October 2017, over 2300 Texans have died from the flu. Of those death, over half have been among the elderly. Called the worst flu season in over a decade, it has sparked many conversations about how we can better protect ourselves and our loved-ones from the annual virus. Part of that protection, and part of limiting risk exposure, comes from how we talk about the flu.

From Texas Standard.

The most wonderful time of the year is gone, and it’s been replaced by what some might say is one of the worst times of the year – flu season. This year it’s particularly bad in Texas.

Dr. Robert Legare Atmar, professor and interim chief of infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, says a severe flu epidemic in Australia last winter (that’s summertime in the U.S.) and a few relatively mild flu seasons here indicate the U.S. is due for a lot of flu cases.

CDC

Nine deaths from influenza in Travis County this flu season represent just one measure of how severe the season has been.

Dr. Phil Huang, Medical Director of the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department, notes that cases started showing up earlier in the season, toward the end of 2013, and that patients under the age of 60 were among the most severely affected. 

"Definitely what we're seeing is worse than what we've seen in some past seasons," Dr. Huang said, "and also the population that's being affected with some of the more severe illness is a younger population than what we were seeing." 

Lance McCord/Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/mccord/

University of Texas at Austin is trying to boost efforts to protect students and staff from catching the flu. The University Health Service Office will provide flu shots Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Students Service Building’s Glenn Maloney Room.   

"Because of the increase in flu cases, huge demand and the telephone calls we were getting about folks wanting flu shots, we scheduled an additional flu shots clinic," Sherry Bell, senior program coordinator for University Health Service said.

flickr.com/sanofi-pasteur

An early, widespread flu outbreak in Texas is putting a strain on the supply of the antiviral drug Tamiflu, a Texas Department of State Health Services spokesperson said Wednesday.

Tamiflu is a prescription drug that both fights flu symptoms and prevents the spread of the flu to the rest of the body. But because of Texas’ flu outbreak, Texas Department of State Health Services spokesperson Chris Van Deusen said there are small spot shortages of the drug.

CDC/ Judy Schmidt

Hospitals and clinics in Austin and Travis County are reporting high levels of flu activity. Across Texas, six kids have died so far this year from flu-related illnesses.

Doctors say the best way to protect yourself is to get a flu shot.

But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Hispanics are 10 percent less likely to get vaccinated than non-Hispanic whites. According to a CDC survey, in March of 2012, less than 40 percent of Hispanic adults had been vaccinated. That's compared to around 50 percent of non-Hispanic white adults.

This year's flu season started about a month early, prompting federal health officials to warn it could be one of the worst in years. They're urging everyone to get their flu shots.

But like every flu season, there are lots of reports of people complaining that they got their shot but still got the flu. What's up with that?

Well, as Michael Jhung of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains, there are lots of possible reasons.

Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department

It's Flu Shot Time Again...

The Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department is offering free flu shots for people who are uninsured, underinsured or on Medicare. Some of the flu clinics allow walk-ins others are by appointment only. 

Got Flu Shot?

Mar 1, 2011
Photo by KUT News

Warmer weather...bright sunshine...trees starting to blossom...it's beginning to look a lot like spring!  But that doesn't mean that flu season's over.