Flu Cases on the Rise

County says now is the time to get the flu shot

Flu activity has steadily gone up each of the last few weeks, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services' weekly influenza surveillance report. 

In Tarrant County, they're seeing the same thing in the public health department's surveillance program, an increase in numbers.
At Hall's Pharmacy in Fort Worth's Near Southside neighborhood, they're seeing an increase in numbers, too, in the number of customers getting their flu shots.
"We are seeing about 20 to 30 people almost every day," said Raja Avanadula, a pharmacist at Hall's Pharmacy.
From the nasal mist for children to the vaccine for adults, Avanadula says many of his customers are concerned following last year's flu season.
"There was an outbreak in January and many more people came in at that time," he said. "And I think they're scared about the last year of things, so they wanted to take care of this year."
And while it's early in the flu season, Tarrant County Public Health says it's looking a lot like last year, so far.
"This year’s flu stats are tracking what we did last year, starting to come up, as usual when it gets cold and then December hits," said Russel Jones, the county's chief epidemiologist. "We'll see what happens."
One thing noticed early on in the season is that one of the strains in this year's vaccine, is showing up in the county's surveillance.
"Half of them to over half of them come back positive with Type-A, H3," Jones said.
Jones says many are positive for H3 N2 or what appears to be very close to that strain. That strain was actually developed for the vaccine out of a Tarrant County case several years ago. And while the flu shot and nasal mist are no guarantee to avoid the flu, experts say it continues to be the best defense against the flu and minimizing the flu's impact. And so, they continue to urge people to get the vaccine.
"Earlier the better," Jones said.
As for the pharmacy, they're well-stocked.
"We always order an extra amount," Avanadula said. 
Last year when many retailers ran out of the flu shot, Hall's was one of the very few in the area still with a supply.
Experts warn that it does take two weeks for the shot to take on its full immunity, meaning you can get sick before the shot takes effect.
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