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Taylor County Flu Season is Off to a Fast Start

The flu season came a little early this year, but its yet to even begin to reach its peak. And officials say without the flu vaccine, people of all ages could be hit hard.
It doesn't take long at all. With a quick stick in the arm, it's done. But still, officials with the Abilene and Taylor County Health Department say its numbers are down in people coming in to get vaccinated for the flu.

"It's always slow in the beginning when there's no flu out there," said Kay Durilla, nursing program manager with the health department. "They don't think they need it just yet."

Officials with the health department say the flu is not a reportable illness, meaning there is no way to say just how many people in Taylor County have the flu. But the health department works with certain facilities in the area to get an idea of those numbers.

The department began administering vaccinations in October. Since then, it's gone through half of its stock of flu mists and has passed out only 1400 out of nearly 2200 quadravalent flu vacccines.

"Vaccinations for the elderly are stronger than anything, because we started out with 750 high-dose flu vaccines and we've given out over 500."

Even with that said, Durilla says that pattern is not conclusive for facilities across the county.

"Not all people go to the same place. Some people may go to the walk in clinic. Some people may go to the emergency room. Some people may go to their doctors," explained Durilla. "So depending on which site or facility the people are going to, that's going to be the site that report the numbers."

The flu vaccine protects against three strands of the flu that have been determined to be prevalent during this time of year.  Durilla says the vaccine contains a kill virus and can not infect a person with the flu. While on the other hand, the flu mist is a live virus that can cause flu-like symptoms. But no matter which you choose to get, Durilla warns getting vaccinated should be a priority right now.

"It takes two weeks for the flu vaccine to become effective, and if you've been exposed during that two-week window, then you can come down with the flu."

Some doctor offices have been packed with patients believed to have the flu,
others not so much. And with there being no over-the-counter medication proved to prevent the flu, the vaccine is the best defense, but it's not the only one.

"The flu is spread by respiratory droplets," said Dr. Daniel Alley. "The range of those droplets is six feet. So if somebody coughs or sneezes more than six feet away from you, you're probably okay. But if it's closer than six feet, what you can do is breathe out so that you don't breathe in the droplets."

But if that technique doesn't work and you come down with flu-like symptoms, Dr. Alley says it's important you see a doctor within the first 48 hours of you experiencing the symptoms.



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