The Department of State Health Services and the Texas Medical Association both called for Texans to get their flu shots as soon as possible. Texas Health Commissioner John Hellerstedt said Monday he would like to see everyone immunized by the end of October.
"The more people we get immunized the safer the population is," Hellerstedt said.
The last flu season was particularly hard on otherwise healthy kids, Hellerstedt added.
"The United States saw a record number of influenza-related pediatric deaths. Texas did not set a record, but we had far too many children die from flu in the 2017-2018 season,” he said. “Sixteen influenza-associated deaths were reported for that season. Thirty-one percent of the children had no underlying health conditions."
Of those 16 deaths, the state only knows the vaccination status of 11 of the children, and 10 of those 11 who died were unvaccinated.
Hellerstedt said it's possible this year's vaccine won't match up perfectly with the strains of flu that circulate this year, but it’s still worth getting.
"We know that the vaccine isn't perfect, but we do know that people who get immunized — even if they get the influenza subsequently — they tend to have milder illness, they have definitely less risk of hospitalization and less risk of death, and of course if we could get a very high percentage of people to take the vaccine we might see an overall even more profound reduction in cases," Hellerstadt said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises everyone to have their flu shot by Oct. 31.
Bonnie Petrie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kbonniepetrie