By Paul Workman, District 47
As summer turns into fall and the temperatures hopefully begin to cool, the beginning of another season is also upon us — flu season. As your state representative, I want to share with you some helpful information about influenza and how you and your loved ones can stay flu-free.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and most commonly peaks in January or February. Flu symptoms can include: fever, coughing, sore throat, body aches, chills, runny or stuffy nose, and fatigue. While most healthy people recover without major problems, those aged 65 and over, pregnant women, young children and people with chronic health conditions are at a higher risk for serious complications.
So, what can you do to avoid the flu? An annual flu vaccine is the best way to prevent flu from spreading. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) urges all those six months and older to obtain a vaccination to combat the seasonal flu. The vaccine takes about two weeks to become effective, so the department encourages immunization as soon as possible.
An increase in flu-like illnesses in Texas over the last few weeks prompted DSHS Commissioner Dr. David Lakey to issue some cautionary words of advice. “Even if you had a flu shot during the last flu season, it’s time to get vaccinated again,” Lakey said. “The protection provided by the vaccine decreases over time, so everyone needs to be immunized each year.”
The CDC recently announced that for those who are needle-shy, a nasal spray vaccine is an alternative for healthy people aged 2 to 49 who are not pregnant. In addition, there is also a high-dose vaccine designed for people 65 and over, and a new intra-dermal shot with a much shorter needle available for some adults.
In addition to getting vaccinated, there are a few other steps you can take to ensure that you and those around you stay healthy:
• Cover all coughs and sneezes
• Wash hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitizer to reduce the spread of germs
• Most importantly, stay home if sick to prevent spreading the virus to others
To find out where you can get a flu shot, contact your health care provider, pharmacy, local health department or call 2-1-1. Additional tips for protecting against the flu are available at texasflu.org.
I hope this information is helpful, and I wish you and yours a safe, happy, and healthy fall. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or if I can be of assistance. I can be reached at 512-463-0652 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paul Workman represents House District 47 in the Texas House of Representatives.
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