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Flu cases off the charts in Galveston County, health department says

In the first two weeks of October, nearly 900 county residents were diagnosed with the flu.

GALVESTON COUNTY, Texas — Galveston County is urging residents to get their flu shots after a big surge in cases this month.

The official start of flu season was Oct. 1. In the first two weeks alone, nearly 900 county residents were diagnosed with the flu, according to the Galveston County Health District.

Those numbers are up dramatically when compared to the first two weeks of October in previous years, GCHD said.

  • 2021: Two cases reported
  • 2020: Five cases reported 
  • 2019: 27 cases reported
  • 2018: 21 cases reported

“We were expecting a rough flu season based on what we’ve seen in other countries like Australia, which had many cases early on in their season. But the sheer number of cases we’ve seen here in the first two weeks is more than we anticipated,” GCHD CEO Dr. Philip Keiser said.

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People 6 months and older should be vaccinated against the flu. Children who need two doses of vaccine to protect against the flu should start the vaccination process sooner as the two doses must be given at least four weeks apart.

Vaccination is especially important for these high-risk groups.

  • Age 65 and older
  • Pregnant women
  • Young children
  • People with chronic health conditions are at higher risk for complications or even death if they get the flu.

Vaccination is also important for health care workers and those who live with or care for high-risk people.

“Getting your flu vaccine is incredibly important this year,” Keiser said. “Flu is already here. That is clear. Do not wait to get vaccinated.”

It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against the flu to develop in the body.

“We encourage anyone who hasn’t already received their flu vaccine to get it,” Keiser added. “Flu hasn’t really circulated a lot in the past few years and, overall, our immunity has waned. We need to make sure we’re protected.”

The GCHD is also advising residents to get their COVID-19 shots and boosters if they haven't already.

Some symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, which can make it hard to tell the difference between the two.

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Chills 
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting and diarrhea, especially in children

To help stop the spread of flu, COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Consider wearing a face mask when in indoor, crowded spaces.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Throw the tissue away after use and wash hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects.
  • Avoid contact with those who are sick.

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