This week, the federal government released a report detailing the possibility of a long and dangerous flu season this year. The warning comes two months after the WHO declared a global pandemic of the novel H1N1 strain of flu, previously known as swine flu. While pandemic levels of infection are possible but not probable, the State of Texas is preparing for the possibility of higher rates of flu contraction by taking an approach to preparation and response that is similar to the way it addresses extreme weather events.
While a vaccine specific to the H1N1 flu will not be available to states until mid-October, Texas already has 2.5 million courses of flu vaccines on hand and another 800,000 hopefully on the way from the national stockpile. Those vaccines can be used to protect from both types of flu. While anyone can get the regular vaccine and officials have assured the public that there are enough supplies for everyone that wants the shot, the H1N1 flu vaccine will be administered first to priority populations like school-age children, people with chronic health conditions, and pregnant women. The Texas Education Agency and the Department of State Health Services will work with school districts and other entities to determine when closures and other preventative measures are necessary, and officials continue to encourage people to stay home if they begin to feel ill.
DSHS is also operating Texasflu.org, which contains information for health care providers, employers, families, and others. To find out where you can get a flu shot, click here.