October 5, 2006
Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) officials are encouraging people to get their flu shots early. Federal health officials expect plenty of flu vaccine this season.
Texas Commissioner of State Health Services Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., said the flu and its complications can be serious, even deadly.
“My last day as commissioner is tomorrow (Oct. 6),” he said. “My parting advice to Texans is simple: get a flu shot.” Sanchez has accepted a position with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston’s School of Public Health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that flu vaccine manufacturers are expecting to produce and distribute more than 100 million doses of influenza vaccines in the United States through early January 2007. CDC says most of the vaccine is expected to be distributed in October and November.
DSHS recommends that those at increased risk of severe flu complications get their flu shot as early as possible in October and November. Those in the increased risk groups are children age 6 months through 4 years, people 50 and older, residents of long-term care facilities, pregnant women and those with chronic medical conditions. People who live with or take care of those at increased risk of flu complications also are encouraged to get the vaccine early.
Flu season typically runs October through March, and vaccinations can be given at any time during that period. A nasal-spray flu vaccine is an option for healthy people age 5 years to 49 years who are not pregnant.
Flu is a viral respiratory illness. Symptoms include a sudden, often high, fever; headache; extreme tiredness; dry cough; sore throat; runny or stuffy nose; and muscle aches. The illness is spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, releasing the contagious virus into the air. Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear and sinus infections, dehydration and worsening of chronic conditions such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes.
A new vaccine is produced each year, based on predictions of what strains of flu virus will be circulating. The viruses covered by the 2006-2007 flu vaccine are A/New Caledonia (H1N1), the A/Wisconsin (H3N2), B/Malaysia and similar strains.
The flu shot takes about two weeks to become effective.
(News media: for more information contact Emily Palmer, DSHS Assistant Press Officer, 512-458-7400.)