The current flu outbreak is one of the worst to hit the country in years, and here in Nueces County, officials have confirmed at least three flu-related deaths.
Kiii News Reporter Anayeli Ruiz went Live from Christus Spohn Memorial Hospital with more details about the epidemic, and what hospitals are doing to prepare.
County officials said that the number of reported flu-like cases here have more than doubled since last year. The flu season has begun to peak earlier than usual this year as well, but experts say that does not mean it is too late to get a flu shot.
"It's not too late. The flu season goes up through March," said Dr. William Burgin of the City-County Health Department during in a phone interview. "If you haven't gotten the flu shot, please get it if you can find it."
The Health Department has seen a tremendous amount of flu-like illnesses that have been reported, and officials have confirmed that in the last two weeks, Nueces County has had three flu-related deaths in women between the ages of 65-85 years old.
The people that are most susceptible to the flu are the elderly, young children, pregnant women and those who have chronic illnesses.
Normally, flu season activity peaks in January and February in Nueces County. This year, however, the flu season has begun to peak a little earlier, and local residents have prepared by getting flu shots and following other health precautions.
"When they start those flu shots, I am the first one in line," resident Betty Walker said.
Corpus Christi Medical Center officials said that, in comparison to last year, the number of patients seen for influenza in the emergency rooms has increased by approximately 13-percent. They have set up infection prevention stations that contain sanitizing foam, facial tissues and masks.
Spohn Hospital officials said that their emergency rooms have also been extremely busy. Just in a week's time, they have seen a significant increase in people coming to the emergency room with flu-like symptoms.
To prevent the flu from spreading at the hospital, they are providing masks to patients with the flu.
If you have not yet received a flu shot, you need to know that supplies are running short, according to the City-County Health Department.
The Health Department recommends that, if you have insurance or the means to pay for it, that you go to your doctor or to one of the many pharmacies offering flu shots. Uninsured individuals and Medicaid recipients between the ages of two-18 can normally turn to the Health Department for their shots, but that is not the case right now.
"Unfortunately for the children, the state vaccine is out and we're not able to get any private vaccine either," said LaLa Yeager of City-County Immunizations. "We're hoping that possibly in two weeks we might be able to order some private vaccine. As far as the state, that vaccine is only available to the children who are uninsured or have Medicaid coverage."
Yeager said there is vaccine available at the Health Department for those over the age of 65 who have Medicare or private insurance.
Keep in mind that, if you think you are coming down with the flu, you should stay home to keep from giving it to others.
To avoid catching the flu, it is best to avoid close contact with sick people. Also, cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, and wash your hands as often as you can.
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