October 7, 2005
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is recommending that Texans at high risk of severe influenza complications get their flu shot starting in October.
Priority groups to receive flu shots include people age 65 and older, residents of long-term care facilities, people ages 2 years to 64 years with chronic health conditions, children ages 6 months to 23 months, pregnant women, health-care workers who provide direct patient care, and household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children less than 6 months old.
“Many people will ache with the flu this fall and winter,” said Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, Commissioner of State Health Services, “but for some, flu can be deadly. Now is the time for those at high risk to get their flu shots.”
People who are not in the priority groups are encouraged to wait until November to get the flu vaccine. Flu season typically runs from October through March, and vaccinations can be given at any time during this period.
Influenza, or flu, is a viral respiratory illness marked by a sudden onset of fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and muscle aches. The illness is spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, sending the highly contagious virus into the air.
The flu shot takes about two weeks to become effective. A nasal-spray flu vaccine that contains weakened live viruses is an option for most healthy people ages 5 years to 49 years who are not pregnant. Flu vaccine for children ages 6 months to 23 months is free of preservatives.
Four manufacturers expect to provide influenza vaccine to the U.S. market during the 2005-06 flu season. Between 5 million and 8 million doses are expected to be given by health care providers in Texas. The vaccine protects against three virus strains: A/California (H3N2), A/New Caledonia (H1N1), B/Shanghai and strains similar to these.
(News media: for more information contact Lisa Davis, DSHS Immunization Branch, 512-458-7284; or Emily Palmer, DSHS Assistant Press Officer, 512-458-7400.)