HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Houston health officials say now is the time to protect yourself from the flu. Vaccine supplies are plentiful, and this year's shots are expected to be more effective than last year's batch.
The 2015 flu season was especially hard on Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports flu-related hospitalizations in adults over age 65 were the highest on record last year. There were also 145 flu-related deaths in children. Those demographics, along with people who have chronic health conditions, are most at risk for the flu virus.
The CDC says that roughly 5 to 20 percent of Americans get the flu each year, with more than 200,000 people hospitalized. There are multiple strains of the flu virus. Health experts say the strain that sickened so many people last year was the H3N2 strain. Last week the CDC announced that this year's vaccine will target the same strain.
In Texas, health experts say flu virus infection rates are minimal so far this year.
"We haven't seen that much. I know there have been a few cases in Houston. But here at Kelsey we haven't seen that much yet. We are seeing a lot of viruses that are mimicking the flu and that means, probably means, that the major flu is coming soon. So the best way to prevent the flu is to get your flu shot now and was your hands as much as possible," Dr. Christine Le, of Kelsey-Seabold Clinic, told Eyewitness News.
Doctors also stress that people not wait until you're feeling sick to get vaccinated.
"It (the flu vaccine) does take two weeks to start working. If you do get sick it likely means you got the flu vaccine two week too late," Dr. Le said.
Health officials say this year's vaccine will protect against three or four strains of the virus. Selected vaccine strains depend on factors that include past outbreaks and different flu strains around the globe.