Flu season has officially arrived and, in order to stay healthy, local officials advise all residents to get vaccinated.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, seasonal influenza can be contracted all year long. However, the season within which most people catch the virus is between October to as late as May.
“We have an epidemic of flu every year,” said Lara Anton, Texas Department of State Health Services spokesperson. “Thousands upon thousands of people get it, and pretty much anybody can catch it. There are, however, people who we are more concerned about catching the virus because they have risk factors for severe complications or hospitalization. We are only nine days into this year’s flu season, but over 10,000 people have died in the last three flu seasons in Texas.”
Those most susceptible to the dangers of the influenza virus are individuals over the age of 50 and children under the age of 5, Anton said.
“Pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions like diabetes or heart disease are also at risk for severe complications. Although we encourage everybody to get their flu shot, we really encourage those people, in particular, to get their flu shot when they can,” she said.
It is commonly believed that the most identifiable symptom of the flu is fever, Anton said. However, many other symptoms can accompany the virus.
“The flu has a lot of different symptoms, and I know that a lot of people think that it might come with a high fever and some people do indeed have fevers, but a lot of the time it’s body aches, chills, a dry cough, sore throat, runny nose, headaches, and extreme fatigue,” she said. “If you suspect that you have the flu, it’s good to go straight to your doctor right away so they can do a rapid test. If they determine you have the flu, they can prescribe you with antiviral medication that can help shorten the duration of your illness. A lot of those antivirals you need to take within 48 hours of the onset symptoms, so you need to get to your doctor pretty quickly for those to be effective.”
To help stop the spread of the flu, Anton advises that people stay clean and cover their mouths.
“It’s really important to make sure that you are washing your hands frequently and covering coughs and sneezes,” she said. “We recommend that people who have the flu stay at home if they are sick so that they don’t expose other people to the virus. We are really encouraging people to get their flu shot by the end of October because it takes about two weeks after you get your shot for your body to build up antibodies to have the immunity to the flu. So we really want people to get it as soon as possible.”
Contrary to popular belief, the symptoms from receiving a flu shot present little to no danger and have only become safer as the years have passed, CVS pharmacy lead technician Rey Zambrano said.
“There’s a lot of people that still think that the flu shot is made the way it used to be where it has dangers,” Zambrano said. “They don’t make it these days where you can get sick from receiving the shot. In the past, they used to make the shot with a live strain of the actual flu within it so you’d have a chance of actually getting sick.”
For those interested in receiving a flu shot, visit the CVS Pharmacy at 110 S. King St., Walmart Pharmacy, 550 S. Highway 123 Bypass, Walgreens, 1357 E. Court St., or HEB Pharmacy, 1368 E. Court St.