Houston Health Department

Houston Health Department recommends people get flu shot now

September 17, 2020

HOUSTON - The clock is ticking to get your flu shot. Do your part to ease the strain on the local healthcare system during the COVID-19 pandemic and make it a top priority to get vaccinated now against the flu. The Houston Health Department encourages everyone ages 6 months and older to get a flu shot.

People can visit their doctor or neighborhood pharmacy to get a flu shot. Many grocery stores also offer the vaccine.

The department offers flu shots at its health centers to uninsured and underinsured people on a sliding scale that ranges from free to $15. To find the nearest health center and make an appointment to get vaccinated, call 832-393-5427 or the City of Houston 311 Help and Info line. Health center locations and hours of operation are also available at HoustonHealth.org.

“The time is now to get your annual flu shot. Don’t wait until the last minute. The flu – just like COVID-19 – hits older people and those with underlying health conditions especially hard,” said Dr. David Persse, local health authority for the department. “Along with the flu, we fully expect the virus that causes COVID-19 to keep spreading this fall and winter and we need everyone to do their part to protect themselves and their loves ones by getting a flu shot.”

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 those age 65 and older. They also are at greater risk of severe complications and hospitalization if they get the flu.

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. 

The flu – caused by different related viruses – is a contagious disease that results in symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue, cough, nasal congestion, sore throat and body aches. People with a combination of these symptoms need to see a medical provider promptly.

The flu and COVID-19 share some symptoms including cough, weakness, fatigue and exhaustion, but if you are also experiencing new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, shortness of breath, nausea and diarrhea you might have contracted COVID-19.  Since many of the symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 are similar, health care professionals can test for both illnesses.

Most people recover from the flu 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.

The department publishes a weekly Influenza Surveillance Report on its website during flu season. The report offers insight into local, state and national flu prevalence. Flu outbreaks can occur as early as October and last as late as May. 

The vaccine is safe and cannot cause people to get the flu. Clients of the department’s health centers, need to remember to call ahead and make an appointment.