The Denton County Health Department (DCHD) is reminding residents to take action now to prevent the flu by getting a flu vaccine right away. October 1st kicked off the typical start of the flu season. While flu activity is currently low, getting vaccinated now will offer protection before it’s too late.
“Every year, the health department works to educate and encourage our family, friends and neighbors to protect themselves from influenza and get a flu shot,” said Dr. Matt Richardson, Denton County Health Department Director. “Hand washing, staying home from work and school when sick, and seeing your doctor when sick are all important steps—but first and foremost, we want people to protect themselves and get immunized.”
He added that the threat of the flu is real. “CDC estimates that as many as 49,000 people have died of the flu in the U.S. in previous years. Using that estimate, over 100 people could die this year from influenza in Denton County. That number may surprise many people, but it shows just how serious the flu can be.”
DCHD is reminding residents that getting vaccinated means you will not only protect yourself, but also family and friends. Vaccinating helps safeguard those who are at highest risk of complications or death from the flu, including these groups:
- Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 (note: babies younger than 6 months are too young for the vaccine, and therefore are especially vulnerable.)
- Pregnant women
- People with disabilities
- People with chronic health conditions, such as asthma, COPD, heart disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, kidney and liver disorders, cancer, and morbid obesity
- Travelers, and those living abroad
Below are some Frequently Asked Questions from www.CDC.GOV related to the flu:
When will flu activity begin and when will it peak?
The timing of flu is very unpredictable and can vary in different parts of the country and from season to season. Most seasonal flu activity typically occurs between October and May. Flu activity most commonly peaks between December and February.
What should I do to protect myself from flu this season?
CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease. People should begin getting vaccinated soon after flu vaccine becomes available, if possible by October, to ensure that as many people as possible are protected before flu season begins.
When should I get vaccinated?
CDC recommends that people get vaccinated against flu soon after vaccine becomes available, if possible by October.
Where can I get a flu vaccine?
Flu vaccines are offered by many doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies and college health centers, as well as by many employers, and even by some schools.
Even if you don’t have a regular doctor or nurse, you can get a flu vaccine somewhere else, like a health department, pharmacy, urgent care clinic, and often your school, college health center, or work.
Residents can search flushot.healthmap.org to find a flu shot in their neighborhood. DCHD clinics have free flu vaccines available for those who qualify, including uninsured children and adults (details are listed below). Vaccines for all age groups are available, including quadrivalent and high dose varieties. Those 65 years and older should also consider the pneumonia vaccine.
Annual vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu, but here are some other ways residents can stay healthy this flu season:
- Wash your hands often.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
- Stay home when you feel sick, and keep sick kids home.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- Practice good health habits, such as getting plenty of sleep and exercise, and managing your stress.
Please visit www.texasflu.org for the latest information on flu in Texas, and www.flu.gov for details about symptoms, treatment, and prevention. You can also get updates though Twitter by following @FluGov.
DCHD Clinic Locations:
Denton: 535 S. Loop 288, Suite 1003
Lewisville: 190 N. Valley Pkwy., Suite 203
Children are eligible for free flu vaccines if they are enrolled in Children’s Medicaid or CHIP, are uninsured, or have private insurance that does not cover the flu shot. Adults are eligible for free flu vaccines if they are uninsured and low-income. All others will be charged $20 (cash only).
What to Bring:
- Immunization record for children
- Cards for CHIP, Children’s Medicaid, Medicare, and/or private insurance
- Cash if applicable
Find out more at http://www.dentoncounty.com/health.