Flu is in the wings

By Glynis Smith/Highland Lakes Newspapers

Banners are up announcing the arrival of flu vaccine and Burnet County already has seen enough flu-like illness to earn a highlight on the Centers for Disease Control Texas map.

“Doctors report cases and the CDC reports them weekly on the cdc.gov website,” said Juliette Madrigal-Dersch, MD, the Burnet County Health Authority. “They are still sporadic here, but on the East Coast the flu is pretty widespread. Cases won't be counted in the 2016 season until Oct. 4, but they have been confirmed in counties east of us.”

Burnet pharmacies are offering shots and the Burnet Housing Authority will be the site of the first of a series out-of-store shot clinics being conducted around the lakes area by H-E-B Pharmacy of Marble Falls. They will be at the office at 805 South Water Street/US 281 today, Sept. 21, from 1-2 p.m. Anyone is welcome to the clinic and everyone is reminded to bring insurance, Medicare or Medicade cards with them to guarantee covered payments.

“People also should remember to keep their shot record cards with them,” said Glenna Deskins,  pharmacy care representative. “We can fill out a new one, but people need to have a record, especially the kinds of shots they have had besides flu shots. It is easy to forget from year to year.”

Dr. Madrigal's recommendation is in line with the CDC and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS): Everyone six months old and older should be vaccinated against the flu, especially pregnant women, young children, older adults and people with chronic health conditions. Those people are at a greater risk of severe complications if they do get the flu.

“One big problems is that people think you can get the flu from the shot,” said Dr. Madrigal. “With the adult flu shot you cannot get the flu. Sometimes people may get a cold around the time they get the shot and mistake it for the flu, but flu is different.

“With the flu you have extreme fatigue, muscle or body aches and a dry cough. The sure way to spot a case of the flu is someone trying to lie down in the waiting room.”

Even if a flu victim is not running a fever, symptoms often include a feverish feeling or chills and adults are less likely than children to suffer nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. A runny or stuffy nose may accompany the flu, but it is different from a cold.

“Most people only get the flu a handful of times in their lifetime, but if you have flu-like symptoms, you should be seen by a doctor, particularly if you have health problems or are over 65,” said Madrigal.

Live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) – or the nasal spray vaccine – is not recommended for use during the 2016-2017 season because of concerns about its effectiveness. But Dr. Madrigal says not to despair that the nasal vaccine is gone forever.

“That will probably be just this season,” said Dr. Madrigal. “There are a lot of strains of flu and sometimes they don't get it (the combination in the vaccine) right. But there are probable a lot of little ones who will be sorry this year.”

She said most physicians offices have not received their supplies as yet, but a call to the office of a primary physician will get an answer.

No one is turned away from immunizations for lack of ability to pay for them at the DSHS but those who can pay are asked to make a donation. The DSHS office serving Burnet, Llano and Blanco Counties is located at office at 1016 Broadway Street and scheduled times can be obtained by calling 830-693-8424.

Children with Medicaid or who are uninsured and adults who are uninsured are eligible for free shots and the DSHS may be able to assist under-insured children who meet certain eligibility criteria. Children with CHIP are not eligible; adults with Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance are not eligible.

There is no lack of locations to get a shot, but you should take a record of previous inoculations because you also will find two pneumonia and shingles shot options in addition to flu options. Options this season include the standard-dose flu shot and a high-dose shot for older people. Some locations offer a choice between a shot made with a virus grown in a cell culture or a recombinant vaccine that does not require use of the virus. Only the nasal spray is not recommended this year.

A spokesperson for Baylor Scott & White Health System said BS&W will begin offering flu shots on Sept. 27 at its clinics and to inpatient customers.

In Burnet, immunizations are offered at Lakes Area Health Pharmacy, 608 Buchanan Drive/Texas 29, H-E-B Pharmacy, 105 South Boundary Street, and Walgreens Pharmacy, 100 North Water Street/US 281.

In Marble Falls, immunizations are offered at NextCareUrgent Care Center, 1701 US 281 (830-798-1122), and shots are being offered at Atkins Pharmacies, 2607 US 281 (830-693-3784) and 701 Third Street (830-693-2972); Walgreens, 1211 US 281 (830-693-8417); Walmart Pharmacy, 1211 US 281 (830-693-5529), and H-E-B Pharmacy, 1503 Ranch to Market Road (RM) 1431 (830-693-4810). In addition to the Burnet clinic Wednesday, H-E-B will be conducting clinics in Marble Falls, Kingsland and the surrounding area. A schedule is available by visiting or calling the Marble Falls store.

They include:

Wednesday, Sept, 21, 1-2 p.m., Burnet Housing Authority,  805 South Water Street/US 281

Thursday, Sept. 22, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., First Baptist Church of Kingsland, 3435 RM 1431

Tuesday, Sept. 27, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., First United Methodist Church of Marble Falls, 1101 Bluebonnet Drive.

Thursday, Sept. 29, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Meadowlakes City Hall (for residents only)

Tuesday, Oct. 4,  11:30a.m.-1:30 p.m., Kingsland Community Church, 1136  RM 1431

Friday, Oct. 7, 10 a.m.-noon, Marble Falls Senior Activity Center, 1200 Seventh Street

Tuesday, Oct. 11, 6-7:30 p.m., Spicewood Volunteer Fire Department, 9805 Texas 71

Sunday, Oct. 16, 9-11 a.m., St. Peter's Lutheran Church, 1803 RM 1431, Marble Falls

Tuesday, Oct. 18, 6-7:30 p.m., Spicewood Community Center, 7901 County Road 404

Saturday, Oct. 22, 7:30-11 a.m., First Baptist Church Marble Falls Health Fair, 901 La Ventana Drive

 

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