WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — 50,000 Texans have tested positive for the flu since flu season began last September. MSU medical director Dr. Keith Williamson explains why getting the flu shot is more important this year.
Even with more than 1,300 coronavirus cases in Wichita County, Williamson thinks physicians will be giving people flu shots as early as possible. While 50,000 flu cases might seem like a small number compared to the almost 700,000 coronavirus cases in Texas, local medical professionals are suggesting people get their flu vaccine early.
“The flu shot is coming around,” Williamson said. “We haven’t gotten our first shipment yet but we’ll get it soon. My intention this year, I usually wait until late October to start delivering it, but as soon as I get supply I’m gonna start targeting students and immunizing.”
“For those individuals who can have severe infection with COVID, it’s really more important to have a flu vaccine so that you don’t have a co-infection with influenza and COVID and possibly have worse outcomes from that,” Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District director of health Lou Kreidler said.
According to one infectious disease professor, there have been a handful or fewer instances where patients have tested positive for COVID-19 and the flu. If that were to happen in Wichita County, Williamson says scientists would have to do even more research.
“Once it gets here, as we do every year, we’ll learn what the nature of this flu season is. It’s almost like it brings a new personality every year,” Williamson said.
And this year’s flu vaccine is different than in past years.
“There’s four strains of influenza in each vaccine in a quadrivalent vaccine. They’ve changed 3 of those strains this year and updated the fourth strain so it will be a different vaccine,” Kreidler said.
“Flu will sneak in and COVID will still be around. I’m afraid it will blossom at the same time flu does,” Williamson said.
While there may not be a vaccine for COVID-19 yet, Williamson and Kreidler said receiving the flu vaccine can help prevent a co-infection of influenza and COVID-19 and recommend receiving a flu shot as soon as it’s available.
Market Street is currently offering free flu shots with most insurance and Kreidler said the public health district hopes to start administering shots in mid-September.