Texas Department of Health Issues Flu Advisory

Perry Grabbs and his wife June aren't taking any chances with the flu making an early appearance in East Texas this year.

"We heard how important it is," says Perry Grabbs. "We're both getting a little older and we understand as we get older we need flu shots, need more protection."

The Grabbs are in one of those high risk groups for getting a serious case of the flu since both are more than 50 years old.

"I think all the senior citizens should take them," says June Grabbs. "About 30 years ago I had the flu and it was one of the cases where it sent me to bed for several days."

Since then, June's been rolling up her sleeves for the flu shot, this year, at the Smith County Health District. Senior citizens aren't the only ones, though, at a higher risk for dangerous flu complications.

"Also, people with chronic diseases, like diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, and liver disease have a decrease in their immune function," says Dr. Karen Wies, ETMC.

Doctor Karen Wies at ETMC says it's also important that children six to 23 months get the flu shot because of their fragile immune systems.

"Young children do receive two vaccinations," says Dr. Wies. "And when you receive the flu vaccination it does take about two weeks."

High risk group or not, that simple shot could be the difference for anyone in avoiding days of coughing, aching and fever that comes with the flu.

Doctors also want to remind you that a flu outbreak is serious business, especially when it's expected to be a fairly severe flu season. Every year more than 100,000 people are hospitalized with the flu and about 36,000 die from the virus.

Dana Dixon Reporting