Flu cases across Houston spike demand for vaccines

Several people across the Houston area have died from flu-related causes, and it's convincing more people to get vaccinated
December 27, 2013 2:40:53 PM PST
You may have concerns about the flu, especially now that a local teenager has died from the H1N1 virus. Autorities say now is the best time to get the vaccine.

Health officials say they are seeing a high number of flu cases in the following ZIP codes: 77318 (Willis), 77378 (Willis), 77301 (Conroe), 77369 (Rye), 77464 (Orchard) and 77661 (Stowell).

It has been the report of hospitalizations and deaths in the Houston region that is convincing more people to get vaccinated for the flu.

The Reid family went Friday.

"Prompted us to take that more seriously to get a flu shot; went to one pharmacy and they were out, so came here and they had some available," Amy Reid said.

The demand for the vaccinations started growing after a cluster of cases were confirmed in Montgomery County that included flu-related deaths.

Some pharmacies in the Conroe area reported running low on the vaccine, some in Houston as well, but that can be replenished quickly.

In Houston, there is officially only one flu death reported by the city health department.

"It was a teenager. He had H1N1 and he succumbed," said Kathy Barton with the City of Houston Health Department.

"In a hospital setting?" we asked.

"Yes," she said.

That's in addition to three reported by the county medical examiner. All were men, two with underlying health conditions.

According to Houston Health Department data, the virus is now making a jump to the suburbs, accounting for more emergency care visits.

Dr. Joseph Varon has seen a spike at his hospital.

"The number of cases we've seen have been isolated but they've been cases that haven't had contact with anybody that we know with similar conditions. That's what's been the unusual characteristics of this year," Dr. Varon said.

The vaccine doesn't stop you from contracting the flu but it does reduce your chances.

To get the vaccine, call a pharmacy ahead of time to make sure they have one; if they don't, another one should.

Find Deborah on Facebook at ABC13DeborahWrigley or on Twitter at @wrigleyabc13

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