January 24, 2008
With flu classified as widespread in the state for the last two weeks, Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) officials are reminding people to take precautions to reduce the risk of getting and spreading the viral illness.
According to health officials, getting a flu vaccination is one of the best ways to prevent getting and spreading the illness. Vaccination is recommended for people ages 6 months and older. Flu vaccines are available in shot and nasal spray forms. Only healthy people ages 2 through 49 years who are not pregnant may receive the spray form.
DSHS health officials offer the following additional precautions:
- Wash your hands frequently with either soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
- Cover your coughs and sneezes;
- Stay home if you're sick.
The Texas flu season typically runs October through March.
The flu vaccine, which takes about two weeks to become fully effective, can be given at any time during this period. People wanting the flu vaccine should call their health care provider, local public health department, 2-1-1 or check online at www.211Texas.org about availability.
Flu is not a reportable condition in Texas, but DSHS relies on reports from a surveillance network to classify flu activity in the state. The widespread classification applies when there are increases in flu-like illnesses and recent laboratory-confirmed flu cases in at least half of the state's regions.
(News Media: For more information contact Emily Palmer, DSHS Assistant Press Officer, 512-458-7400.)