October 15, 2008
Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) officials are encouraging everyone 6 months and older to get a flu shot now.
“Don't wait for cold weather to get your flu shot,” said Dr. David Lakey, DSHS Commissioner. “A flu shot before the holiday travel season begins is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from flu and its complications and to reduce the spread of the virus.”
Lakey said getting a flu shot now is especially important for children who will be receiving a vaccination for the first time because they will need two doses of flu vaccine at least four weeks apart.
People at high risk of having serious flu complications are especially encouraged to get their annual flu shot as soon as possible. These groups include children ages 6 months through 18 years, those 50 and older, people with chronic medical conditions, residents of long-term care facilities and pregnant women. People who live with or take care of those at increased risk of flu complications and people who have close contact with children younger than 6 months also should get vaccinated every year.
Each year in the United States about 200,000 people are hospitalized and 36,000 die from flu complications. About 100 of those who die are children.
Flu season typically runs October through May, usually reaching its peak in Texas in January and February. People should get their flu shots early but can get them anytime throughout the fall and winter. The shot takes about two weeks to become effective.
Because flu viruses change, a new vaccine is produced each year. Three strains of the flu virus are addressed in this year's vaccine: A/Brisbane/59/2007 (H1N1), A/Brisbane/10/2007 (H3N2) and B/Florida/4/2006. Flu shots do not contain live viruses and cannot cause the flu.
A nasal-spray flu vaccine, which contains live weakened viruses, does not cause the flu either and is an option for healthy people ages 2 years to 49 years who are not pregnant.
Call your health care provider, 2-1-1 or your local health department to find out where to get a flu shot in your community.
(News Media: For more information contact Emily Palmer, DSHS Assistant Press Officer, 512-458-7400.)