Austin health leaders getting the word out early to get your flu shot
It's only September, and local health leaders are already starting to get the word out about getting your flu shot. And there's good reason: Influenza is way too easy to catch from the people around you.
There's also another reason. To be clear, we really don't want a repeat of last flu season. Dr. Phil Huang is medical director for Austin Public Health. He reminds us, “We had the highest number of deaths that we've had since I've been with the health department in 10 years. We had 49 deaths by the end of march. The prior year we'd had 5."
Last year's flu bug was bad stuff. Dr. Huang says, “The circulating strain that was going around the community was an H3N2 type and that is associated with more severe illness." But he adds those who had their flu shot and still got sick didn't get as sick.
And even if this year's flu strain isn't as bad, local health leaders still want to see our children immunized so they don't miss any school. Susan Dawson with the E3 Alliance says, “We have very strong data that says the highest spikes in absences are due to flu, they correlate with flu outbreaks here in our area."
And if you're reluctant to get your flu shot, a row of local health leaders are here to remind you it's not all about you. Dr. Clay Johnston, dean of the Dell Medical School at UT says, “If we have more people immunized we're less like to have a major outbreak. So it's actually a community good as much as it is a personal good that we offer folks when we get vaccinated."