The Department of State Health Services recommends eligible Texans protect themselves and their families by getting a flu shot as soon as possible. It takes the body about two weeks to make flu antibodies after vaccine administration, so early vaccination is crucial.
“Seasonal influenza presents a real public health threat to Texans, and immunization remains our best defense against serious flu illness,” said DSHS Commissioner Jennifer Shuford, MD. “Other actions can also help protect you and people close to you, like covering coughs and sneezes, washing your hands often, and staying home from work or school when you are sick.”
DSHS recommends Texans six months of age and older get the flu shot by the end of October. That is especially important for those more at risk of severe flu-related complications, such as young children, people 65 years of age and older, pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions like heart and lung disease, diabetes and asthma. Immunization can make flu symptoms less severe and reduce flu-related deaths and hospitalizations.
People can also safely get their flu vaccine and an updated COVID-19 vaccine at the same time, if they are due for both.
Flu viruses spread mainly by tiny droplets made when people with flu talk, sneeze or cough. Infection can also occur if a person touches an object or surface that has virus on it and then touches their mouth, nose and possibly their eyes.
Flu symptoms can include fever, headache, body aches, sore throat, cough, fatigue and chills, and these can last a week or longer. Antiviral drugs to treat flu sickness are available by prescription, and these treatments can make flu illness milder and reduce the length of symptoms if started within 48 hours of symptoms beginning.
Roughly 36,000 Americans die each year from flu-related illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, making it the seventh-leading cause of death in the U.S.
For more information about influenza and how to protect against flu illness, visit dshs.texas.gov/influenza-flu. You can also contact your doctor, local health department or pharmacy to learn where you can get your flu shot or use the vaccine finder at Vaccines.gov to locate where flu shots are available.