HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As flu season begins to ramp up, the Houston health department is encouraging people to get a flu shot.
Nearly 1,900 people have died from the virus in Texas this flu season.
The health department has been monitoring 42 area hospitals, and officials say between 1,300 and 1,600 people with flu-like symptoms are showing up at emergency rooms every week.
The department expects numbers to rise, citing the importance of the vaccine, especially for those at a higher risk, like the elderly, pregnant women and children.
Flu activity usually peaks in January and lasts until May.
"The flu is very unpredictable. We don't know how it's going to manifest, but we do know that cases will increase. We're seeing an uptick, so when we ramp up we could see as many as 3,500 cases every week," Porfirio Villarreal with the Houston Health Department said.
Health officials believe the sooner you get the flu shot the better your chances of not contracting the virus may be. Officials say it takes about two weeks for the shot to kick in.
If you have the flu or flu-like symptoms, the health department says to wash your hands, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and stay at home.
To find the nearest health center, call 832-393-5427 or the city of Houston's 311 information line.
Houston health officials encouraging flu shots after nearly 1,900 died in Texas last year