January 25, 2005
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) today recommended that the flu vaccine be given to anyone 6 months of age or older. The recommendation is effective immediately.
Since October when a national flu vaccine shortage was announced, federal and state health officials had recommended limiting the flu shot to those in several priority groups. DSHS officials said the goal had been to make sure those at high risk of severe complications from the flu had an adequate chance to get the flu shot.
“Demand for the flu vaccine from priority groups in Texas had been steady for several weeks. But it appears, overall, that those demands are being met. We're comfortable loosening the recommendations,” said Eduardo Sanchez, Texas Commissioner of State Health Services.
He said local public health departments may choose to continue recommending limiting the flu shot to priority groups, depending on the supply and demand situation in their communities.
Noting that flu season officially runs through May, Sanchez said, “It's not too late to get a flu shot and have it do some good.”
He said it does not appear Texas will end up with leftover vaccine.
Flu activity in Texas last week remained at the “widespread” level for the third week in a row. F lu activity classifications range from no activity to sporadic, local, regional and widespread. The widespread classification is used when there is an increase in flu and flu-like illnesses and recent laboratory confirmed flu in at least half of a state's regions.
The A/Fujian and B/Shanghai forms of the flu virus have been identified in Texas. Both are covered by this season's vaccine.
People wanting to get a flu shot should contact their doctor, call the 2-1-1 information service or call their local public health department or nearest DSHS regional office.
It takes about two weeks after getting the flu shot for the vaccine to offer maximum protection.
A pneumococcal vaccine also is recommended for people 65 and older and those with chronic health problems to protect against pneumonia caused by pneumococcus bacteria. Pneumonia is often a complication of influenza.
( News Media: for more information contact Doug McBride, DSHS Press Officer, 512-458-7524.)