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Personal Precautions Offer Flu Protection

Armen Hareyan's picture

Mid-way through the flu season, Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) officials are reminding people that it is still important to take precautions against getting the viral illness.

"Getting a shot is the one best way to prevent flu, which can cause serious, sometimes deadly complications," said Dr. David Lakey, DSHS Commissioner. "The flu shot together with simple precautions such as washing your hands frequently, covering your cough and sneeze and staying home when sick are good ways for people to protect themselves and their families from infection."

Flu season typically runs October through March, and vaccinations can be given at any time during this period or later as long as the vaccine has not reached its expiration date. While the season in Texas has been relatively light so far, the peak for flu illnesses in Texas is usually January and February but could run longer.

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Because most flu vaccine is privately purchased and distributed, it is difficult to determine how much flu vaccine remains statewide. DSHS recommends that people check on the availability of flu vaccine in their community by contacting their health care provider. The flu shot takes about two weeks to become effective.

Flu is a viral respiratory illness. The illness is spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, releasing the contagious virus into the air. People with flu generally can transmit the virus to others from one day before getting sick to up to seven days after showing symptoms of the flu.

Symptoms include a sudden, often high, fever; headache; extreme tiredness; dry cough; sore throat; runny or stuffy nose; and muscle aches. Flu complications can include bacterial pneumonia, ear and sinus infections, dehydration and worsening of chronic conditions such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes.

Flu is not a reportable condition in Texas, but DSHS relies on reports from a surveillance network to classify flu activity in the state.