Flu season officially starts later this week

Flu season officially starts later this week, although the illness has already been detected in the Austin area. Steps are being taken now to prevent a major outbreak later this fall.

It's always busy at the south Austin Health Clinic on Stassney, but Community Health Educator, Coleen Christian, is hoping a few more healthy people will start showing up.

"It’s good to get them now, so we don’t see them sick later,” said Christian.

The push for flu shots is underway. According to a map produced by the Centers for Disease Control, the flu is already in Texas.

" Usually when you get the flu shot it takes 2 to 3 weeks to reach its peak of full immunity, so by getting it now, through the month of October, you've built that immunity before we start seeing a lot of cases of flu, in Travis County, that’s usually around Thanksgiving or  Christmas. So getting it now getting it early is great, the flu shot will protect you through the flu season which can last up until May of next year,” said Christian.

More than 76 million doses of vaccine have been distributed nationwide so far. It's projected another 100 million will be provided.

The vaccine last year was not very affective this time administrators with the CDC say they got the formula right the new flu vax is designed to protect against four viruses that researchers believe will be most common the season.

The benefits of getting a flu shot, even one without a knockout punch, can make a difference according to the CDC. The agency estimates 7.2 million cases of flu were prevented last season. That's enough to form a line of people from Maine to Oregon.

There were also 3 million fewer trips to the doctor, which is about the population of Chicago, and 90,000 fewer hospitalizations; enough to fill Madison Square Garden more than four times. Doctors say a shot, or giving your child the vaccine through a mist application will not cause the flu.

To show how easy it is the President of the University of Texas turned his flu shot into a media event. He urged everyone on campus and throughout the community to join him and get protected.

Free Flu Shots for Uninsured Wednesday.  The Austin/Travis Co Health and Human Services  Department will start giving out the shots from 3pm until 7pm at the Rosewood-Zaragosa Neighborhood Center.

2800 Webberville Rd. Appointments are suggested: 512-972-5520

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