Special to The Dallas Examiner
It’s official: Flu season has arrived. Oct. 1 was Texas Influenza Awareness Day, marking the official start of flu season, which lasts until May 2021. More than 10,000 Texans died from flu-related illnesses last flu season. State immunization experts recommend everyone getting a flu vaccine before Halloween to protect them selves and those close to them.
“Every year, many tens of thousands of Texans get the flu needlessly because they did not protect themselves with a flu vaccine,” said Allison Winnike, J.D., president and CEO of The Immunization Partnership – known as TIP. “Take this simple step to protect yourself and your loved ones: Get your flu vaccine before Halloween.”
TIP, a Texas non-profit organization, and the Immunization Unit of the Texas Department of State Health Services are working together to encourage Texans to get their flu shots now that healthcare providers have the vaccines.
“Protecting Texans against the flu, begins with you,” Winnike said.
The vaccine antibodies take about two weeks to develop in the body and provide protection, which is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a vaccination at the start of flu season and before flu spreads through the community. The CDC estimated as many as 56 million Americans reported flu illnesses during the 2019-2020 season, resulting in as many as 62 thousand flu-related deaths.
“Fall and winter bring cooler and drier weather in Texas, just the conditions the flu virus likes,” said Terri Andrews, president of the Immunization Collaboration of Tarrant County, a partnership of more than 40 public and private agencies and organizations. “And because we spend more time indoors during these months, we can also spread the virus more easily.”
Children under six-months old and individuals with certain medical conditions should not receive the flu vaccination, Andrews advises.
“The CDC says most people should get a flu shot, even those with egg allergies, but if you have questions, please talk to your provider, she said.
A high-dose shot is available for those 65 years of age and older.
“The flu vaccine is the most safe and effective tool we have to prevent thousands of flu cases and deaths in Texas,” Winnike said. “Getting Texans vaccinated against flu will also help lower the number of visits to hospitals strained by the COVID-19 pandemic and prevent a ‘twindemic’ of flu and COVID-19 this year.”
TIP provides English and Spanish resources for finding a vaccine provider near you, as well as access to the latest state and federal flu data at https://www.immunizeusa.org/flu. For more information about The Immunization Partnership, visit https://www.immunizeusa.org,