With influenza (flu) season upon us and COVID variants circulating, protecting yourself this winter is important. Here in Texas, flu season typically starts in early October with an uptick in illnesses around Thanksgiving and peaking between December and February. However, flu viruses have been detected in Southeast Texas as late as May.
The more common flu symptoms usually include a sudden onset of fever followed by chills, headache, cough, sore throat, body aches, and excessive fatigue. It is important to seek care early and start an antiviral medication within 36 hours of the onset of symptoms to reduce illness severity and downtime.
Please note: The flu vaccine does not cause flu. It is caused by various – and mutating – strains of viruses. That is why each year a seasonal vaccine is formulated to match strains researchers expect to be circulating. Their research adheres to rigorous scientific standards for safety and effectiveness, resulting in an updated vaccine available as a traditional shot, a nasal spray for people ages 2 to 49, and a high-dose shot for those 65 and older. Women should also receive a seasonal flu shot during pregnancy.
Your best protection is getting the seasonal flu vaccine – and the sooner the better, as it can take two weeks to become fully effective. The vaccine is available at all Kelsey-Seybold locations at no cost, as a covered benefit in your accepted health plan.
New COVID-19 vaccines
In September, the FDA authorized the use of new COVID-19 vaccines to target current circulating variants. These new vaccines provide better protection against newer strains of the COVID virus.
The CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older get the new COVID-19 vaccine to help protect against this virus and the potentially serious medical outcomes – including hospitalizations – it can cause.
COVID-19 boosters are no longer recommended. Going forward, consider COVID vaccine as a seasonal vaccine – like the flu vaccine – and get immunized before the winter months when illnesses are expected to peak.
New COVID-19 vaccines should be available at most Kelsey-Seybold Clinic locations by mid-October. Check our website: kelsey-seybold.com for more information and updates.
To get your vaccines via a Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, schedule an “immunization only” appointment through your MyKelseyOnline account or MyKelsey app or call our 24/7 Contact Center at 713-442-0000.
Play it safe this season – and every season – get immunized!
Author Suma Manjunath, MD, FAAP
Published October 9, 2023