The Texas Department of State Health Services reported in its latest flu surveillance report that the percentage of specimens testing positive for the flu reported by hospital laboratories has decreased from 0.15% to 0.06% last week, and the percentage of patient visits due to flu-like illness has also decreased.
Harris County has not yet reported any widespread activity from the flu. But parts of north Texas, including the Dallas-Fort Worth area, are already seeing some spread of flu-like illnesses. Central Texas, including the Austin and San Antonio areas, are also seeing cases of the flu
Despite the early low numbers, DSHS is urging all Texans to get their flu shot to not only keep the spread of the flu down, but to also to keep people out of the hospital to conserve medical resources needed to care for COVID-19 patients.
“We have good reason to believe this flu season may be worse than last year’s,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, DSHS commissioner. “For most of last flu season, we didn’t have the COVID vaccine yet, and many Texans were practicing the same basic health protections and good hygiene that have proven to help stop any respiratory virus like COVID-19 and flu. For this upcoming flu season, we expect fewer people to be wearing masks and physically distancing now that we have effective vaccines for COVID-19.”
The same precautions Texans are already taking against COVID-19 – getting vaccinated, covering coughs and sneezes, physical distancing and hand hygiene – will help slow the spread of influenza.