DALLAS — Flu season is upon us. According to the CDC, “ideally, everyone should be vaccinated by the end of October" for the flu.
So, WFAA interviewed North Texas doctors to get details on what we can expect to see during this year's flu season.
Are we seeing flu activity yet in North Texas?
Yes, according to Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja.
“Flu activity is currently above baseline in Tarrant County, which is an unusual, early start to the season,” said Taneja.
“Baseline” refers to what the county expects to see this time of year. According to its most recent data, Tarrant County is currently seeing flu activity that is above the county’s baseline, but below the baseline for the state of Texas.
“Early start worries me because we're heading into fall, cooler weather. We got still COVID circulating in a community, and we don't want two problems. Just one is enough,” said Taneja.
Dr. Justin Smith is a pediatrician at Cook Children’s. He said thankfully, the hospital system hasn’t seen flu cases yet, but they’re prepared for what they could possibly see over the next few months.
“Because of last year's flu season kind of being unpredictably low, we really don't know what to expect for an upcoming flu season,” Smith said. “Definitely think that there will be more cases this year than last year due to lessening mask restrictions and more mobility.”
According to the CDC, “Reduced population immunity due to lack of flu virus activity since March 2020 could result in an early and possibly severe flu season.”
I just got my COVID vaccine. When can I get my flu shot?
That’s the most commonly asked question Texas Health Resources Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Nikhil Bhayani is getting from his patients.
“The most important thing is to emphasize to get both (the COVID and flu shots). It's safe. Do not delay,” said Bhayani.
Flu activity peaks between December and February, according to the CDC.
North Texas doctors and the CDC said it’s safe to get both the COVID and the flu shots at the same time.
That goes for kids, too.
“There are no restrictions on getting them even together at the same time, so we are advocating that if you're due or eligible for them, that you go ahead and move forward with getting them,” said Smith.
So now is a good time to start planning to get your shot, doctors said.
"Don't wait too late because sometimes influenza comes earlier and surprises us. And it takes a couple weeks for the flu shot to work," said Baylor Scott and White Health Internal Medicine Physician Dr. David Winter.
Where can I get a flu shot?
Below are a few options for those looking for a flu shot in North Texas outside of their heath provider: