HOUSTON - The Houston Health Department encourages people to protect themselves and their families against the flu by getting vaccinated.
The department is now offering flu shots at its health centers to everyone age 6 months and older with or without insurance. Administration costs are based on a sliding scale fee up to $15 depending on income.
“I urge people to get the flu shot this year as we could see a more severe season than in years past,” said Dr. David Persse, chief medical officer for the City of Houston. “Over the last two years many people have been isolating because of the pandemic, leaving a low herd immunity for us to control an outbreak, should we have one.”
Flu outbreaks can occur as early as October and last as late as May. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends people get vaccinated in September and October to provide protection throughout the flu season.
This year the CDC is also recommending the high-dose vaccine to for people 65 years and older.
People can visit their doctor, neighborhood pharmacy, or local health department to get a flu shot. Many grocery stores also offer the vaccine.
People can receive flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time, in different arms.
In addition to vaccination, people can help stop the spread of the flu and other illness by:
Washing hands frequently
Covering coughs and sneezes
Staying home if sick and at least 24 hours after their fever is gone, except to get medical care.
People at high risk for flu are young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, and people 65 years and older. They also are at greater risk of severe complications if they get the flu.
The flu is a contagious disease with symptoms ranging from a fever, headache, and fatigue, to a cough, nasal congestion, sore throat, and body aches. People with these symptoms should seek medical attention.
Most people recover in one to two weeks, but some develop complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections. Flu also can make chronic medical conditions worse.
Doctors can prescribe antiviral medications that help make the illness shorter and milder. Antiviral medications work best if started within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.
To find the nearest health center and set a flu shot appointment, people can call 832-393-5427. Health center locations and hours of operation are also available at HoustonHealth.org or through the City of Houston’s 311 Help and Info line.