Oct. 1 is Texas Influenza Awareness Day
With flu season approaching and COVID-19 still spreading in Texas, now is the best time to get a flu shot. The Texas Department of State Health Services encourages everyone to protect themselves, their families and their communities against respiratory illness throughout the flu season by getting immunized as soon as possible.
People can get vaccinated for flu and COVID-19 at the same time. Getting vaccinated against flu will slow the circulation of the virus in Texas and keep people out of the hospital, conserving medical resources needed to care for COVID-19 patients.
“We have good reason to believe this flu season may be worse than last year’s,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, DSHS commissioner. “For most of last flu season, we didn’t have the COVID vaccine yet, and many Texans were practicing the same basic health protections and good hygiene that have proven to help stop any respiratory virus like COVID-19 and flu. For this upcoming flu season, we expect fewer people to be wearing masks and physically distancing now that we have effective vaccines for COVID-19.”
Getting a flu shot is especially important for people at a higher risk for complications if they do get the flu, including those with chronic health conditions, pregnant women, young children and older adults. People who provide care to members of those groups should get a flu shot to protect themselves and to prevent spreading the flu to vulnerable people they care for in their families and communities.
Influenza is caused by a number of related viruses. Symptoms usually start suddenly and include fever, body aches, chills, a dry cough, sore throat, runny nose, headaches and extreme fatigue and can last a week or longer.
The same precautions Texans are already taking against COVID-19 – getting vaccinated, covering coughs and sneezes, physical distancing and hand hygiene – will help slow the spread of influenza.
DSHS encourages people to seek treatment promptly if they are experiencing flu symptoms. Antiviral drugs may help shorten the duration or lessen the severity of the flu if started within 48 hours of when symptoms begin.
The flu vaccines available in the United States this flu season will protect against four strains of the flu virus: two strains of influenza A and two of influenza B. People can contact their health care provider, local health department or local pharmacy to find out where flu shots are available.
Video messages for Texas Influenza Awareness Day in English and Spanish are available on the DSHS YouTube channel.