09/23/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/23/2021 11:21
Austin, Texas - As the 2021-2022 Influenza season begins, Austin Public Health (APH) is calling for everyone to get vaccinated for both Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 to avoid further straining a health care system already pushed beyond capacity by caring for patients with COVID in addition to those with other illness and injuries.
Flu vaccinations are offered in many locations, including doctors' offices, clinics, retail stores, pharmacies, health centers, and through many employers and schools. To find a location near you to get your Flu or COVID-19 vaccine, visit VaccineFinder.org.
Both vaccines for the Flu and COVID-19 can be administered at the same time. Currently, there is no combined vaccine.
"You have two arms, get two shots - one for flu, and if you aren't fully vaccinated or need a third dose because you're immunocompromised, one for COVID," said Interim APH Director Adrienne Sturrup. "If you're waiting for COVID boosters to be approved, it's still a good time to get your flu vaccination and help protect our community from another outbreak."
With very few exceptions, everyone aged six months and older is recommended to get an annual flu vaccination before the end of October before cases increase, but can still get the vaccine almost year-round. High-risk individuals are recommended to get the Flu vaccine as soon as possible. High-risk categories include:
Adults over the age of 65
Anyone who is pregnant
People with chronic medical conditions
"We cannot afford simultaneous outbreaks of Flu and COVID," said Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes. "Do not risk becoming severely ill and needing hospitalization. Get vaccinated, wear a mask and stay healthy."
Similar to COVID-19, the Flu is a respiratory virus that spreads through tiny aerosol droplets when people sneeze, cough, or talk. The same simple steps that offer protection from COVID-19 guard against contracting and spreading the Flu:
Wear a mask or cough and sneeze into your elbow or tissue
Avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth
Avoid others who are sick
Stay home if you are sick
Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces and objects
While Flu activity is currently low, many children and young people are back in school and vulnerable to contracting the virus. Symptoms include:
Fever or chills
Cough, sore throat
Runny or congested nose
If you or a loved one has trouble breathing, has bluish skin color, is not waking up or interacting, has sudden dizziness, has confusion, is severely or persistently vomiting, or improves but then gets worse, seek immediate medical attention to get a diagnosis.
Flu shots are also available at Shots for Tots/Big Shots clinics for children who are uninsured or Medicaid recipients and for uninsured adults. The flu vaccine costs $25 for adults, $10 for children, and is free for children with Medicaid. No one will be denied services if they are unable to pay. Please call (512) 972-5520 to make an appointment.
For more information on the Flu and surveillance information, visit AustinTexas.gov/Flu.
For more information on COVID-19 vaccinations, visit AustinTexas.gov/covid19-vaccines or call 3-1-1 or (512) 974-2000 to schedule an appointment.