While many residents are counting down the days until Christmas and New Year’s, the City of El Paso Department of Public Health is counting down to the peak of this year’s flu season.
For the months of October and November, 159 confirmed cases of the flu have been reported to the Epidemiology Program. While this is lower than last year’s total of 277 cases during these two months, officials warn the peak of the flu season is typically still weeks ahead.
“We don’t usually see a spike in the number of flu cases until January or February. That’s why it is so important that residents in El Paso receive the flu vaccination right now,” said Fernando Gonzalez, Lead Epidemiologist. “Yearly flu vaccination is the most effective method for preventing influenza virus infection and its complications.”
It takes several weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection. This is why the Department of Public Health (DPH) is urging residents to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the season and get vaccinated as soon as possible.
In addition to your primary health care provider, many local drugstores and retail outlets offer the flu vaccine. Parents may also call the DPH Immunization Program at 915-212-6555 to see if their children qualify for reduced-cost vaccination. Eligible children will not be denied vaccination if parents are unable to pay the administration fee.
Also, the Vaccinations for Health program (a partnership between the DPH and El Paso Fire Department) is offering the flu shot and a basic health screening to those who are age 18 and above who don’t have private medical insurance on Saturday December 19, 2015 at Fire Station 4 located at 1218 Randolph Dr. from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
It is important to keep in mind that the flu vaccine is still considered the first line of defense against the disease. Additionally, residents are asked to practice the “4 C’s” which have proven to be effective in preventing the spread of the flu virus.
- CLEAN – Wash your hands often. Scrub your hands for at least 30 seconds with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
- COVER – Cover your cough. Use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Don’t have a tissue? The crook of your elbow will do.
- CONTAIN – Contain germs by steering clear of others who are sick. If you do get sick, stay home until you’re well again, so you don’t spread more germs.
- CALL – Call or see your doctor if you or your child has a fever of greater than 100 degrees.
The mission of the Department of Public Health is to provide research and evaluation, prevention, intervention, and mobilization services to the people of El Paso so they can be healthy, productive, safe and secure. For more information on the programs and services offered by the Department of Public Health, visit EPHealth.com or dial 2-1-1.