The 2019-2020 flu season is well underway according to the CDC, with Texas experiencing high influenza-like illness (ILI) activity for several weeks. Dallas County Health and Human Services has stated that this is the earliest the county has seen this much flu activity in the last ten years.
Here are 5 things to know about the flu this season that can help protect you and your family:
Flu has already hit hard.
By the end of the first week of December, there were at least:
- 2.6 million cases of flu
- 23,000 hospitalizations
- 1,300 flu-related deaths nationwide
Influenza B and A/H1N1 have taken the early lead, but the flu shot is killing it.
The influenza B/Victoria viruses are causing most of these early cases of flu, which is not typical for this time of year. Close on its heels are the A/H1N1 virus flu strains, which are increasing in proportion relative to other influenza viruses in some regions. The good news? The CDC says that the current flu vaccine is most effective against these two virus strains, meaning the shot is well-matched to the circulating viruses.
All types of flu can be severe and lead to complications.
In most healthy people, flu is not dangerous and will resolve within one to two weeks. However, anyone can end up with complications from any strain of flu virus. Complications of flu include:
- Inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), heart (myocarditis) or muscles (myositis, rhabdomyolysis)
- Pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses
- Worsening of existing conditions, such as asthma or chronic heart disease
Antiviral flu medications can help.
The CDC says that antiviral medications are an important supplement to the flu vaccine. If you or someone in your family has the flu or is experiencing flu symptoms, the CDC recommends that you seek prompt treatment and ask your doctor about an antiviral—especially for those considered at high risk for complications, including:
- Infants, children and senior adults
- Pregnant women
- People with chronic conditions, including COPD, asthma, diabetes or heart disease
- People with compromised immune systems
It’s not too late to get a flu shot.
For everyone 6 months of age and older, getting a flu shot is still the best way to protect against the flu. Even pregnant women are encouraged to get vaccinated anytime during their pregnancy, as flu can be life-threatening and lead to complications such as pneumonia and respiratory problems.
Get flu shots for the whole family for just $20 each while they last at a CareNow Urgent Care clinic near you.
If the flu comes calling this season, one of our many Medical City Healthcare emergency locations has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.