Time to get your flu shot

survivalist gardenThe Texas Department of State Health Services is urging everyone over 6 months old to get a seasonal flu shot as soon as possible.

“There’s no reason to wait. The supply is here,” said Dr. David Lakey, DSHS commissioner. “We usually see an increase in flu cases in late October or early November. It takes the vaccine about two weeks to become effective, so get vaccinated now to protect yourself and your family.”

Lakey said this year’s seasonal vaccine also protects against H1N1 flu. A nasal spray vaccine is an option for healthy people ages 2 to 49 who are not pregnant.

The flu is caused by various influenza viruses. Symptoms include fever, coughing, sore throat, aches, chills and fatigue. Most healthy people recover without problems, but people over 65, pregnant women, young children and people with chronic health conditions are at higher risk for serious complications and even death. It is especially important for people in those high-risk groups to be vaccinated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently broadened its recommendation, urging everyone at least 6 months old to get vaccinated. The CDC also says children ages 6 months to 8 years who have not previously been vaccinated for both seasonal and H1N1 flu should get two doses of the vaccine at least four weeks apart.

A different flu vaccine is produced each year because different strains of the virus circulate. The three strains covered by this year’s vaccine are A/California/7/2009 (H1N1), A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2), B/Brisbane/60/2008.

Getting a flu shot is the best way to prevent flu from spreading. Also, cover all coughs and sneezes, wash hands frequently with soap and water or hand sanitizer and stay home if sick.

People should contact their health care provider, local health department or 2-1-1 to find out where to get a flu shot. Flu information and tips for protecting against the flu are at texasflu.org.