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Flu season off to slow start in Texas, health experts urge caution

Flu sick
Posted at 10:05 PM, Nov 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-17 23:03:59-05

WACO, Texas — Flu season is off to a mild start in Texas, but doctors and health experts are warning people to not let their guard down this year.

Much like in the 2020-21 flu season, case counts are much lower than they normally are at this time of year. The Texas Department of Health and Human Services reports the state is at a "minimal" level of influenza-like illnesses as of last week.

"With the changes with the global pandemic of COVID-19, we've seen a record reduction in influenza cases," said Dr. Jocelyn Wilson, a family medicine physician with Baylor Scott & White. "So last year there was almost no influenza and this year there have been very few cases, specifically in McLennan County."

The Waco-McLennan County Public Health District director, LaShonda Malrey-Horne, said it is too early to predict what this flu season will look like just yet.

"We're still kind of early in the flu season. It's only the middle of November, and really deep winter, January, February, is when we really start to see flu cases peak," Malrey-Horne said.

This year, there are fewer COVID-19 restrictions in place. Some health experts warn this flu season could become cause for concern at any time, especially for certain at-risk groups, such as young children, seniors and people with underlying medical conditions.

"The flu is spread by respiratory droplets ... and so this year, we're all back to hanging out together and not wearing masks, etc.," said Amy Mersiovsky, director of the nursing department at Texas A&M University-Central Texas. "We may see more and more people with flu infections."

Health experts urge people to follow a similar set of precautions to the precautions used against COVID-19: frequent hand washing, mask-wearing in crowded settings, social distancing, and vaccines.

Flu shots are available at local pharmacies, health care providers such as Baylor Scott & White and the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District.