Had Your Flu Shot? It’s Time, Say Texas Physicians

Sept. 27, 2013

First-Ever “Influenza Awareness Day” Prompts Reminder 


As fall begins, flu season follows close behind. Texas Medical Association (TMA) physicians urge Texans to get vaccinated now against this potentially serious, even fatal illness.

“The flu vaccine is the best defense against getting the flu,” says John Carlo, MD, chair of TMA’s Council on Science and Public Health. “It’s a safe and effective way to protect yourself and those around you.”

Flu season can begin as early as October and last through May. To emphasize the flu’s dangers, the Texas Legislature declared Oct. 1 as Influenza Awareness Day, in a bill (HB 1204) sponsored last session by Rep. Tan Parker (R-Denton).

Doctors say everyone 6 months of age and older should get a vaccination every year to protect themselves from the flu. Dr. Carlo, a public health and preventive medicine specialist, says now is the time to get the shot for protection throughout the entire flu season.

New this year: an additional flu vaccination option. Talk with your doctor about which option is best for you.

The standard flu shot, which protects against three different flu viruses, two influenza A viruses and one influenza B virus (called “trivalent” vaccines).  Various versions of this vaccine, including one for people allergic to eggs, are available for children 6 months of age through adults.  

An intradermal vaccine uses a much smaller needle than the regular flu shot for injection into the skin instead of the muscle. It is appropriate for people ages 18 to 64.

A high-dose trivalent shot, called Fluzone, is approved for people 65 years and older to give extra protection against the flu.

A new quadrivalent vaccine protects against two influenza A and two influenza B viruses. It is available in the standard flu shot or as a nasal spray. The nasal spray vaccine is available for healthy people who are not pregnant, ages 2 to 49.

Flu shots are important because each year, as many as one in five Texans of all ages get sick from the flu. About 200,000 people are hospitalized each year as a result, some with complications like pneumonia. Some patients as many as thousands per year even die.

“Everyone should get a flu vaccination, but it’s really important that certain higher-risk people get vaccinated,” said Dr. Carlo. Elderly people, young children, and pregnant women are at greater risk for serious complications if they get sick from the flu. People who have chronic health conditions, such as asthma and heart disease, are higher-risk, too.

A bonus for pregnant women who get vaccinated: The vaccine protects not only the mother but also her unborn baby — even after the baby is born, up to 6 months of age.

Physicians say besides getting the flu shot, take simple precautions to help prevent you from getting sick: Cover your mouth with a tissue or your elbow when you sneeze; wash your hands often; stay away from people who are sick; and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

To learn where flu shots are available and other flu information, visit the Texas Department of State Health Services website, or visit www.flu.gov.

TMA actively works to improve immunization rates in Texas through its Be Wise — ImmunizeSM program. Be Wise works with local communities to give free and low-cost shots to Texans, and educate people about the importance of vaccination. More than 240,000 shots have been given to Texas children, adolescents, and adults through the Be Wise program since 2004.

TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 47,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 112 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.

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Be Wise — Immunize is a service mark of the Texas Medical Association.

Jan. 9, 2013  

 

Contact: Pam Udall
phone: (512) 370-1382
cell: (512) 413-6807
 

Brent Annear
phone: (512) 370-1381
cell: (512) 656-7320
 

 

Click here to follow TMA on Twitter . Or visit TMA on Facebook.   Or visit MeAndMyDoctor.com for interesting and timely news on health care issues and policy.

 


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