The flu has hit the state with a widespread outbreak a month before the usual start of flu season, and is now present in 41 states. The CDC prediction is for a significantly worse than normal flu season this year, and states that it is not too late to get the flu shot.
The CDC emphasizes that flu viruses are circulating in the population and an annual seasonal flu vaccine (either the flu shot or the nasal-spray flu vaccine) is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and lessen the chance that you will spread it to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community. The CDC also points out that it is not too late to get the flu shops, although WFAA Channel 8 News is reporting that shortages of the vaccine are occurring across north Texas particularly in county health departments. In a survey of local pharmacies, most appear to have vaccine on hand although some have used up all of their supply for the season, it is best to call your local pharmacies to be sure.
Because of the severity of this year's outbreak, and the CDC has said that everyone who is at least 6 months of age and does not have risk factors for the vaccine (see below) should get a flu vaccine this season. It’s especially important for some people to get vaccinated. Those people include the following:
- People who are at high risk of developing serious complications like pneumonia if they get sick with the flu. This includes:
- People who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.
- Pregnant women.
- People 65 years and older
- People who live with or care for others who are high risk of developing serious complications. This includes:
- household contacts and caregivers of people with certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.
There are some people who should not get a flu vaccine without first consulting a physician. These include:
- People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs.
- People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination.
- Children younger than 6 months of age (influenza vaccine is not approved for this age group), and
- People who have a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever (they should wait until they recover to get vaccinated.)
- People with a history of Guillain–Barré Syndrome (a severe paralytic illness, also called GBS) that occurred after receiving influenza vaccine and who are not at risk for severe illness from influenza should generally not receive vaccine. Tell your doctor if you ever had Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Your doctor will help you decide whether the vaccine is recommended for you.
A University of Texas study recently noted how people think and talk about the flu influences their decision to get a flu shot. If they think about the virus as a predator they are much more likely to get one.