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Fighting the flu: Hospital, pharmacy seeing season reach peak

Gainesville Daily Register - 12/20/2019

Dec. 19--Flu season is peaking and it's not too late to get a flu shot for protection, Tom Thumb Gainesville Pharmacy Manager Matt Kordi says.

Since September, Kordi said Tom Thumb pharmacists in Gainesville have given more than 2,000 shots for influenza. While the majority of flu shots were given in October, Kordi said he still averages about eight per day.

"I think it's super important [to get the flu shot]," Kordi said.

Health officials advise getting a shot sooner rather than later.

Kordi said it takes about two weeks after getting the shot before it becomes effective.

Flu vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu and its potentially serious complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So far this season, there have been at least 2.6 million flu illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations and 1,300 deaths from the flu, the CDC estimates.

In Texas, influenza activity is high across the state, according to a weekly flu report produced Dec. 12, by the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Compared to the previous week, the percentage of people testing positive for flu reported by hospital laboratories slightly decreased. However, that's not the case in Gainesville, according to North Texas Medical Center spokeswoman Kristi Rigsby.

Rigsby said Thursday, Dec. 19, that positive cases have spiked since Thanksgiving.

"There is definitely an increase in positive cases of flu B this year," Rigsby said.

As of Tuesday, Dec.17, the NTMC emergency department has had three adults and one child test positive for flu A and 21 adults and 41 children test positive for flu B.

Cooke County Medical Center, 801 N. Grand Ave., did not provide Rigsby with a breakdown for adults and children but did report eight cases for flu A and 26 positives for flu B.

Statewide, there have been a total of 5,425 cases reported, according to the TDSHS. There were also six pediatric deaths reportedly associated with the flu this season.

In the past week or two, Kordi said he has seen an influx in Tamiflu prescriptions. The pharmacy has filled around 30 prescriptions compared to "three" in previous weeks, he said.

"It's running rampant right now," Kordi said. "That's why it's so important to get it [a shot] before this time."

Tamiflu is prescribed not only to treat the flu, but to help prevent it, according to Kordi.

He said the flu shot should theoretically remain effective for the entire flu season, which he says can sometimes linger into May.

"Having flu run rampant around here is really hard on businesses as far as like workforce and things like that," Kordi said. "It's important to have everybody protected in a small to medium community like this."

Rigsby said flu injections are recommended until the CDC announces flu season is over.

Keeping up with hygiene by washing hands and disinfecting as much as possible is also key to staying healthy.

Rigsby said hand washing is "still the best prevention of any virus."

Flu shots are available at Tom Thumb and Cooke County Medical Center and are covered by most insurance providers. For more information about the vaccine call CCMC at 940-612-8750 or Tom Thumb at 940-665-7622.

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