If you haven’t received your flu vaccine yet, now is the time. We’ve had a calm season compared to last year’s early outbreaks, but activity is expected to increase in coming weeks.

Dec. 2 through Dec. 8 marks National Influenza Vaccination Week, and as long as flu viruses are spreading and causing illness, vaccination still provides the best protection against the flu.

Already, 514 flu cases have been reported to the health district during Oct. 1 through Nov. 30.

National Influenza Vaccination Week reminds us of the importance of the protecting yourself and your family. People 6 months and older should be vaccinated for the flu. Vaccination is especially important for certain high-risk groups including those age 65 and older, pregnant women, young children and those with chronic health conditions, who are at higher risk for complications or even death if they get the flu.

Vaccination is also important for health care workers and others who live with or care for high-risk people to keep from spreading the flu to them.

The flu vaccine doesn’t cause flu illness, as some may think. The viruses in the flu shot are inactivated, meaning they’re dead, so they cannot cause an infection.

The flu vaccine is currently available at the Galveston County Health District Immunization Clinic at 9850-B Emmett F. Lowry Expressway in Texas City. The clinic is walk-in and open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays with extended hours till 7 p.m. Tuesdays.

Flu shots are $34 each. Medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield, cash, check, debit and credit cards are accepted. For more information, call 409-949-3459.

Remember to stop spread of the flu and other illnesses by covering all coughs and sneezes with elbows, washing hands frequently, disinfecting commonly touched surfaces and staying home when sick.

Flu-like symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people, especially children, may have vomiting and diarrhea. People may also be infected with flu and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.

The flu vaccine can reduce flu illness and flu-related hospitalizations. Flu vaccinations can reduce doctor visits, missed days at work and missed days at school. It’s important to get your flu vaccine each year. Your immune protection from vaccination drops over time, so yearly vaccines help make sure you have the best protection available against the flu.

Eileen Dawley is the chief nursing officer for the Galveston County Health District.

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