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Texas Emergency Management ONLINE 2016 Vol. 63 No. 10

Message From The Chief

During my career, I have experienced many frightening situations and not often was afraid of facing them. I'm a regular tough guy, right? There is one thing that does scare me. Needles! I cringe this time of year when my annual flu shot is due. I know for the betterment of myself and my family, I have to do this simple "painful" step to reduce the chance of contracting or spreading the flu.

Flu season is the topic in this month's issue. #AreYouReady

Flu Season

Flu Season

October marks the beginning of flu season. Each year in Texas and the US, influenza develops into a wide-spread and dangerous epidemic. And each year thousands of people in the US die from flu-related illness. Texans are not immune.

The flu usually comes on suddenly with some or all of these symptoms:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that everyone over six months old get a flu shot yearly, and get it early. Some children 6 months through 8 years of age will require 2 doses of flu vaccine for adequate protection from flu. Children in this age group who are getting vaccinated for the first time will need two doses of flu vaccine, spaced at least 28 days apart.  It is the single, most important step you can take to protect yourself from this serious disease. Unimmunized people not only risk getting the flu, they also risk spreading the disease among everyone they come in contact with. You can find vaccination locations here.

This flu season, individuals with egg allergies can receive any licensed, recommended age-appropriate influenza vaccine and no longer have to be monitored for 30 minutes after receiving the vaccine. People who have severe egg allergies should be vaccinated in a medical setting and be supervised by a health care provider who is able to recognize and manage severe allergic conditions.

CDC is recommending this flu season; health care professionals use injectable flu vaccines.  The nasal spray flu vaccine should not be used during 2016-2017 flu season.


Every flu season is different, and flu viruses are constantly changing. So it's not unusual for new strains to appear from season to season. For example, in 2009, H1N1 "swine flu" appeared in the US.  This virus originally jumped to humans from pigs, and people that were around pigs were the only ones vulnerable. But, the virus changed in ways that made it possible to pass from human to human.

This season flu vaccines have been updated to better match circulating viruses. Though flu vaccines have to be "tweaked" periodically, they are formulated to prevent the seasonal viruses that circulate among people today:  H1N1, H3N2, and Influenza B.

Other steps you can take to protect yourself from the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
  • Wash your hands often;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth; and
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that can become contaminated with germs.

If you get sick, stay home from work or school to help prevent spreading the disease. CDC recommends to stay at home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care. If you must go out, avoid close contact with other people, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and wash your hands frequently to keep from spreading flu to others. The Texas Department of State Health Services also recommends that you have a plan to care for sick family members at home.

Centers for Disease Control - Influenza
Texas Department of State Health Services - 2016-2017 Flu Season

Chief W. Nim Kidd, MPA, CEM® TEM®
Follow @chiefkidd on Twitter

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