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State Health Officials Warn Residents About Early Flu Season

Health

Woman gives a patient a shot | Image by Shutterstock

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This year’s flu season, thus far, has proven to be the worst in a decade, NBC 5 News reported.

Flu season started a few weeks earlier than usual this year and is hitting Texas particularly hard. The latest influenza surveillance report from the CDC shows that Texas is in the “very high” category for flu activity level.

State health officials confirmed that more influenza-like illnesses are occurring earlier this year than in recent flu seasons. Influenza currently has a 29% test positivity rate in the state, CBS Austin reported.

The flu seems to be returning with a vengeance this year after being held at bay over the last two years during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lower rates of flu cases in 2020 and 2021 were “likely a result of all of those important precautions that we were taking to stop the spread of COVID-19, and those precautions were necessary to help keep our health care infrastructure intact and functioning and to help keep people safe,” Dr. Jennifer Shuford, interim commissioner for Department of State Health Services, explained.

Mask-wearing and frequent hand-washing are simple precautions that can help limit the spread of the flu virus this year. However, due to the early arrival and uptick in flu cases, the Texas Department of State Health Services is encouraging residents to go a step further and get vaccinated to protect themselves from the flu as the holiday season draws near.

Flu vaccines for the 2022-2023 season have undergone substantial changes since last season, allowing them to better protect against the flu viruses that are now circulating, according to officials.

Effectiveness of the flu vaccine varies based on many factors, according to the CDC, including an individual’s age and health, as well as which variation of the flu is being spread. The vaccine can reduce the risk of flu illness by 40-60% “when most circulating flu viruses are well-matched to those used to make flu vaccines,” however, this is often not the case.

The vaccine is also generally less effective against certain subtypes of the virus.

For information on where to get this year’s flu vaccine, visit here.

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