Health officials urge vaccine now as flu cases already reported in Lubbock

Health officials urge getting flu shot now

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Following a widespread and deadly flu outbreak last year, the Centers for Disease Control and City of Lubbock Health Department are asking everyone to get their flu vaccine before the end of October.

Influenza vaccines are available to everyone 6 months and older.

“Flu vaccines are the best defense against the flu,” Director of Public Health Katherine Wells said. “The earlier in the season you get the flu vaccine, it ensures you will have better coverage throughout the entire season.”

Wells said at least one case of influenza type A has already been reported in Lubbock. According to the CDC, flu season typically begins as early as October, peaking around December into February.

“The flu vaccine is considered coverage for the entire year,” Wells said. “Once you get the vaccine, it takes about two weeks for the antibodies to be built up in your system. That’s why they say the vaccine isn’t effective as soon as you get it. You have to wait a while. If you get it before we start seeing flu cases in town, then you will have better protection.”

According to Wells, a nasal spray has been approved this year. However, she encourages getting the shot if possible. There are two types of vaccines, trivalent and quadrivalent, corresponding with the number of strains of the flu covered by the vaccine. Wells says to get the quadrivalent vaccine.

“The flu vaccine is not a live vaccine,” Wells said. “You can not get the flu from getting the flu vaccination. However, there are a lot of different strains of the flu that circulate. The vaccine, they try to make it the best match to what they think is going to circulate. However, the different viruses that circulate throughout the year aren’t always a 100 percent match to the flu vaccine. Therefore, people can still get sick if they are vaccinated. The vaccine should protect against the strains we think we’ll see. Then, it also has a protective effect if you get a virus that is a close match, it should still make your symptoms less.”

Wells tells KCBD her biggest concern is widespread flu circulating around the community and wants people to understand the effects of the illness not only on yourself but others.

“For some people the flu can be very devastating to your immune system and even deadly,” Wells said. “We also have young children or young babies that can’t be vaccinated for the flu yet. Seeing a one or two-month-old baby with the flu that can’t be vaccinated yet and then have them hospitalized and even, we even see deaths from the flu.”

As flu vaccines expire in the summer, new orders should now be stocked or on their way to health care providers. The City of Lubbock Health Department, as of Monday, has 90 percent of its ordered vaccines. It does not carry the nasal spray.

Shots are available to anyone for $20. Children with no insurance can get the vaccine for $14. Children with Medicaid or CHIP and seniors with Medicare can get the shot for free.

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