Health Officials urging caution ahead of flu season

With flu season just around the corner, health officials are urging people to get prepared now.

The push comes because of how deadly last season was, not just in Texas, but across the nation.

Forty-nine is the number of deaths the Austin area saw at the end of the last flu season.
Health officials are hoping by getting the word out, that people will be well prepared when the season is expected to start in October. 

“Last year was probably our worst season in at least 10 years we've had the most number of deaths,” said Dr. Philip Huang the Austin public health department medical director.

Last year's flu season also having a big impact on productivity. 

“People missing work, lost school time all that it was a really bad year,” said Dr. Huang.
Dr. Huang with the City of Austin is pushing to get the word out about being prepared for the start of this year's season.

“Wash your hands, don't rub your eyes, nose, mouth if you do get ill. Cough into your sleeves,” said Dr. Huang.

The best defense against the flu is of course the flu shot, which according to Dr. Huang is already out ahead of the season. When you get the shot it doesn't start affecting your body right away. It takes about two weeks for your body to create anti bodies.

“We start seeing (flu) cases in October and November and it can go as late as may,” Dr. Huang.

Just because you get the shot doesn't mean you'll get through the season with no issues.

“Even if it's not a perfect match (the flu shot strain) getting that flu shot when someone gets ill it can decrease the severity of the symptoms,” said Dr. Huang.

Those most vulnerable to the virus are the elderly and kids.

“Last year nationally there were 180 children who died and 80% percent of those where not vaccinated,” said Dr. Huang.
 
While health officials are not expecting this season to be a severe as last, Dr. Huang said it's better to be safe than sorry.

If you are uninsured the Austin health department offers flu shots to children and adults at their clinics.

Call 512-972-5520 Monday through Friday 8am to 4:30pm to make an appointment.

Current locations:
•    Far South Austin clinic, 405 West Stassney, Austin, 78745
•    North Austin St. John clinic, 7500 Blessing Avenue, Austin, 78752