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Take a shot at avoiding flu

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Although the push for flu shots is normally associated with autumn months, flu season is gearing up to be a busy one, and professionals are telling the public it’s not too late to get vaccinated.

Walgreens’ most recent flu activity map has Texas at second place nationally in the number of flu cases. In fact, the map’s flu data show Texas can dubiously boast of flu activity in four different market areas: El Paso, southwest Texas, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Tyler-Longview.

The Communicable Disease Center is reporting that the number of reported flu cases around the U.S. quadrupled between the week of Thanksgiving and the last days of 2018. Further, it said influenza numbers for the 2018-19 season seem poised to equal those of last year, a season during which 49 million were diagnosed across the country, 960,000 were hospitalized and 79,000 died.

Quoting the Texas State Department of Health and Human Services, local physician Ben Stahl, M.D., noted that numbers of confirmed flu cases between the last week of November and the first week of December jumped 50 percent, then doubled the following week.

Stahl noted that DHHS numbers usually reports data after a delay of about two weeks. “Flu activity is still relatively low in Texas but is increasing and is expected to pick up significantly in the coming weeks.”

Stahl said that senior adults need to be particularly cautious.

“Individuals over 65 suffer a mortality rate of 28 percent,” he said,

His own Boerne practice has seen rising numbers. “We saw an uptick about three weeks ago in positive flu tests,” Stahl said. Even though flu season is in full swing, he notes it’s not too late for individuals to benefit from flu vaccinations.

“It is a great time to get a flu shot to protect yourself as much as possible against the flu and its dangers,” Stahl said.