Flu waiting in the wings

GLYNIS CRAWFORD SMITH/THE HIGHLANDER

Local pharmacies already are providing immunizations for the 2016 flu season. At H-E-B Pharmacy in Marble Falls on Saturday, Sept. 17, pharmacist Nathan Harris, left, prepares to provide a flu shot for Jean Denniston Eades, right, as pharmacy care representative Glenna Deskins looks on. See the story on this page for a list of out-of-store clinics around the Highland Lakes.

Glynis Crawford Smith

The Highlander

Banners are up announcing the arrival of flu vaccine and Burnet County already has seen enough flu-like illness to earn a highlight on the Centers for Disease Control Texas map.

“Doctors report cases and the CDC reports them weekly on the cdc.gov website,” said Juliette Madrigal-Dersch, MD, the Burnet County Health Authority. “They are still sporadic here, but on the East Coast the flu is pretty widespread. Cases won't be counted in the 2016 season until Oct. 4, but they have been confirmed in counties east of us.”

Dr. Madrigal's recommendation is in line with the CDC and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS): Everyone six months old and older should be vaccinated against the flu, especially pregnant women, young children, older adults and people with chronic health conditions. Those people are at a greater risk of severe complications if they do get the flu.

“One big problems is that people think you can get the flu from the shot,” said Dr. Madrigal. “With the adult flu shot you cannot get the flu. Sometimes people may get a cold around the time they get the shot and mistake it for the flu, but flu is different.

“With the flu you have extreme fatigue, muscle or body aches and a dry cough. The sure way to spot a case of the flu is someone trying to lie down in the waiting room."

Even if a flu victim is not running a fever, symptoms often include a feverish feeling or chills and adults are less likely than children to suffer nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. A runny or stuffy nose may accompany the flu, but it is different from a cold.

“Most people only get the flu a handful of times in their lifetime, but if you have flu-like symptoms, you should be seen by a doctor, particularly if you have health problems or are over 65,” said Madrigal.

Live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) – or the nasal spray vaccine – is not recommended for use during the 2016-2017 season because of concerns about its effectiveness. But Dr. Madrigal says not to despair that the nasal vaccine is gone forever.

“That will probably be just this season,” said Dr. Madrigal. “There are a lot of strains of flu and sometimes they don't get it (the combination in the vaccine) right. But there are probable a lot of little ones who will be sorry this year.”

She said most physicians offices have not received their supplies as yet, but a call to the office of a primary physician will get an answer.

No one is turned away from immunizations for lack of ability to pay for them at the DSHS but those who can pay are asked to make a donation. The DSHS office serving Burnet, Llano and Blanco Counties is located at office at 1016 Broadway Street and scheduled times can be obtained by calling 830-693-8424.

Children with Medicaid or who are uninsured and adults who are uninsured are eligible for free shots and the DSHS may be able to assist under-insured children who meet certain eligibility criteria. Children with CHIP are not eligible; adults with Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance are not eligible.

There is no lack of locations to get a shot, but you should take a record of previous inoculations because you also will find two pneumonia and shingles shot options in addition to flu options. Options this season include the standard-dose flu shot and a high-dose shot for older people. Some locations offer a choice between a shot made with a virus grown in a cell culture or a recombinant vaccine that does not require use of the virus. Only the nasal spray is not recommended this year.

In Marble Falls, immunizations are offered at NextCareUrgent Care Center, 1701 US 281 (830-798-1122), and shots are being offered at Atkins Pharmacies, 2607 US 281 (830-693-3784) and 701 Third Street (830-693-2972); Walgreens, 1211 US 281 (830-693-8417); Walmart Pharmacy, 1211 US 281 (830-693-5529), and H-E-B Pharmacy, 1503 Ranch to Market Road (RM) 1431 (830-693-4810). In addition to Burnet clinics Wednesday, H-E-B will be conducting clinics in Marble Falls, Kingsland and the surrounding area, beginning Thursday, Sept. 22. A schedule is available by visiting or calling the Marble Falls pharmacy. Some out-of-store clinics include:

Thursday, Sept. 22, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., First Baptist Church of Kingsland, 3435 RM 1431

Tuesday, Sept. 27, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., First United Methodist Church of Marble Falls, 1101 Bluebonnet Drive.

Thursday, Sept. 29, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Meadowlakes City Hall (for residents only)

Tuesday, Oct. 4, 11:30a.m.-1:30 p.m., Kingsland Community Church, 1136 RM 1431

Friday, Oct. 7, 10 a.m.-noon, Marble Falls Senior Activity Center, 1200 Seventh Street

Tuesday, Oct. 11, 6-7:30 p.m., Spicewood Volunteer Fire Department, 9805 Texas 71

Sunday, Oct. 16, 9-11 a.m., St. Peter's Lutheran Church, 1803 RM 1431, Marble Falls

Tuesday, Oct. 18, 6-7:30 p.m., Spicewood Community Center, 7901 County Road 404

Saturday, Oct. 22, 7:30-11 a.m., First Baptist Church Marble Falls Health Fair, 901 La Ventana Drive

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