Flu Season is Back


It's October, the leaves are turning, the days are shortening, the temperatures are dropping, and that also means another flu season is just around the corner.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending people get vaccinated early this year to avoid a repeat of last year's flu season, which saw 900,000 hospitalizations and 80,000 deaths, including 180 child deaths.

"Last season really was an anomaly," says Dr. Melanie Mouzoon with Houston's Kelsey-Seybold clinic.  "It was our worst season in a long time, and certainly put a lot of people in the hospital, and killed more children than we usually see in a season."  Texas was among the states hit hard by last year's flu outbreak, which was driven by the unexpected H3N2 strain, for which the vaccine was only about 25 percent effective.

This year there is plenty of vaccine on hand, and Dr. Mouzoon says it can literally be a lifesaver.  "We know that this vaccine, even though it doesn't always prevent the flu, it's really pretty effective at preventing death or hospitalization from the flu," she tells KTRH.

Getting a flu shot isn't just to prevent you from getting sick, but to keep others around you from catching the virus.  "Some of those children who died from the flu (last year) didn't get vaccinated because they were too young," says Dr. Mouzoon.  "So it's important for families to immunize themselves if they've got a young baby at home, because the baby can't be vaccinated."

In addition to young children, there are others who are particularly vulnerable to the flu.  "People with chronic illness such as diabetes, people who have heart disease, those who are older than age 65," says Dr. Mouzoon.


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