Flu early; still time for shots

January 16, 2013

Among the seven customers who were in Ron’s Best Value Pharmacy just before 10 a.m. Monday were a man wearing a Green Bay Packers jacket, a woman wearing a Dallas Stars jacket – and a man wearing a surgical-style mask.

Yes, football season is winding down, hockey season is about to start, and we’re in the middle of flu season. Clearly, though, the man wearing the mask is no fan of the contagious influenza virus, which can lead to hospitalization and even death.

“It’s been very busy,” said David Tate, pharmacist at Ron’s. “The news is telling everybody to get their flu shots.”

National news reports have noted that flu revved up earlier than usual this year, but there’s still plenty of time to get vaccinated.

Tate said he recalled the last major flu outbreak seen here was in about 2003.

“The last couple of years have been pretty light,” he added. “Evidently it hit pretty hard this year.”

Tate confirmed that the number of flu cases rose earlier than normal.

“I believe that’s correct,” Tate said. “It did hit early, at the end of December.”

The latest statistics available from Lake Granbury Medical Center show that, as of Jan. 8, there were 34 patients there with flu-like symptoms, according to R.N. Denise Pratz, infection control preventionist at the hospital.

Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services in Austin, said Monday that the flu outbreak is being seen everywhere across the state.

“We’ve had more flu than we would in what you might call a usual year,” Van Deusen said. “Usually it will hit its peak in late January or February. It’s been a month or six weeks early.

“If this is the peak, it’s busy but it’s not that unusual. The season could plateau for a while. Time will tell what kind of flu season it’s going to be.”

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