Everyone Encouraged to Get Vaccine
Houston is right in the heart of the flu season, and this year's has been worse than usual, so far. "We're continuing to see an increased level of influenza cases and respiratory ailments reported to emergency rooms, more so than we expected, and more than we have seen in the last few years," says Kathy Barton with the Houston Health Department. The department's most recent Influenza Surveillance Report from late November shows an increase of more than 1,300 flu-related ER visits this year compared to last, with the vast majority (more than 60%) of those visits being children under the age of ten.
Not only have there been more flu cases this year, but it's a stronger form of the disease. "The strain that is circulating is a very harsh strain, and is making the people who get it very sick," says Barton. She recommends all adults and children get a flu shot, even if you are healthy. "We need everyone to take it, in order to protect the people who cannot take the flu vaccine," she says. In particular, parents are urged to get the vaccine for themselves and their children.
While this flu season has already been worse than usual both in Houston and around the country, it could get worse still. The flu season typically doesn't reach its peak until mid-February. "The good news is there is still plenty of flu vaccine available for anyone who wants to get the shot," Barton says. "And we encourage everyone to get the influenza shot."
Click here to find a flu vaccine location near you.