Moderate flu activity is being reported in Denton County, according to Denton County Health officials. Recent findings from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention indicate about half of the Influenza A H3N2 viruses have mutated to make them slightly different than what is covered in the vaccine, according to a news release.
Though the flu vaccine’s protection may be reduced, residents are being asked to get a flu shot if they haven’t done so already as it could still provide protection against other flu strains that could be more common later in the season.
One local pediatrician’s office began seeing flu cases in children at the end of November. To date, Lantana Pediatrics has had six children test postive for Influenza A H3N2 virus, said Diana Rangel, a medical assistant with the pediatrian’s office.
With December 7-13 slated as National Influenza Vaccination week, Denton County health officials are asking residents to get vaccinations due to initial signs from CDC that the flu season could be severe. It takes about two weeks for flu vaccinations to be fully effective, officials said.
“Influenza can be a very serious disease that can lead to hospitalization or death,” Denton County Health Department Director Matt Richardson said in a news release. “It’s important to remember that anyone can get sick from the flu.”
More than 200,000 people across the U.S. are hospitalized from flu complications each year, according to CDC officials. In a 30-year period from 1976 to 2006, annual deaths associated with influenza A H3N2 viruses range from 3,000 to 49,000 depending on the severity of the season.
Denton County health officials recommend a three-pronged approach this season including getting a flu vaccination, using antiviral medications as a second line of defense and taking everyday preventative measures such as staying away from people who are sick, staying home when experiencing an illness and washing hands often.
“Denton County is currently experiencing moderate flu activity, and is likely to increase in the weeks ahead,” said Juan Rodriguez, chief epidemiologist in Denton County, in a news release. “Receiving a flu vaccine continues to be the best way to protect yourself against the flu.”
Vaccination is recommended for individuals aged 6 months and older and for those at high risk for serious complications including adults over 65, pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions.
For the latest information on flu in Texas, visit www.texasflu.org.