East Texas health professionals give tips for flu season preparation
TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - East Texas health professionals say they expect the upcoming flu season to show normal case rates but still recommend being proactive by getting the flu shot.
Within the last week, the percentage of positive flu tests reported by hospital labs in Texas has increased, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Director of Public Health Emergency Preparedness for NET Health Russell Hopkins says that is normal for this time of year, and he expects them to remain normal. He also said people might want to consider getting the flu vaccine as a preventative measure before gathering with loved ones for the holidays.
“What you see now is typical for the past couple of years, and I would not see any expectation that it would deviate from that track,” he says. “You see a lot of promotion, and, you know, this is a preventative measure. We’re trying to mitigate the effects of the disease, so our assessment right now is we expect to have a similar flu year, but that’ll also be accompanied by a lot of other respiratory diseases.”
Each year, the flu vaccine development is somewhat of a guess, as strains are constantly changing and evolving. This year’s vaccine is called a quadrivalent vaccine, meaning it covers four strains.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this year’s vaccine is more than 50% effective at preventing hospitalizations.
“You might wonder, why do we put so many in there... we look to our partners in the Southern Hemisphere to see what happens during their Winter, which precedes our Winter, and we try to make an informed decision based on what’s circulating on what goes into the flu vaccine,” says Dr. Michelle Crum, Chair of Preventive Medicine and Population Health at UT Tyler School of Medicine.
Both experts agree that getting a flu shot is not the only way to stay healthy and protect the general population.
“Prevention is always the best method, so it’s things that we’re all probably familiar with,” say Dr. Crum.
Hopkins says, “Wash your hands, stay at home when you’re sick, cover your cough.”
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