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El Pasoans Urged to Get Flu Shot Ahead of Season

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) is joining other cities across the Lone Star State to commemorate Texas Influenza Awareness Day on October 1.

As the number of flu cases in our area begins to pick up steam, officials want to make sure that everyone six months old and older gets vaccinated to protect themselves from getting the flu.

“We have yet to see huge numbers of flu cases in the Sun City,” said Robert Resendes, Public Health Director. “What we know for sure is that the flu shot is the first line of defense to prevent getting sick.”

Flu vaccination is particularly important for pregnant women, young children, older adults and people with chronic health conditions, because people in those groups are at a greater risk of severe complications if they do get the flu.

The DPH currently has flu vaccines available for patients 6 months to 18 years of age. They are available at DPH Immunization Centers for $10/per dose.

For patients, age 6 months through 18 years, to be eligible to receive Texas Vaccines For Children (TVFC) immunizations at the Department of Public Health Clinics, they must meet one of the eligibility criteria listed below:

  • Medicaid eligible
  • Uninsured: a child without health insurance coverage
  • American Indian or Alaskan Native
  • Enrolled in CHIP
  • Underinsured*

*Underinsured definition from DSHS – A child who has commercial (private) health insurance, but coverage does not include vaccines.

The flu vaccine for adult patients over the age of 19 is expected to be available on October 12. Residents may call 915-212-6555 to schedule an appointment.

In addition, the El Paso Fire and Health Department’s “Vaccinations for Health” program will provide free influenza vaccines along with various screenings to patients 18 and older

  • Saturday Oct. 1: Station 17, 8803 Alameda Ave., 8-11 a.m.
  • Wednesday Oct. 5: EPFD Safety, Health Outreach Center, 5415 Trowbridge Dr., 1-6 p.m.
  • Wednesday Oct. 12: EPFD Safety, Health Outreach Center, 5415 Trowbridge Dr., 1-6 p.m.
  • Saturday Oct. 15: Station 18, 7901 San Jose Rd., 8-11 a.m.
  • Wednesday Oct. 19: EPFD Safety, Health Outreach Center, 5415 Trowbridge Dr., 1-6 p.m.
  • Wednesday Oct. 26: EPFD Safety, Health Outreach Center, 5415 Trowbridge Dr., 1-6 p.m.

Influenza, commonly known as the “flu”, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by an influenza virus. Symptoms usually start abruptly and include fever, body aches, chills, a dry cough, sore throat, runny nose, headaches and extreme fatigue and can last a week or longer.

Take precautions to reduce your chance of getting the flu this season by getting vaccinated, washing hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes and staying home if you’re sick. People can contact their health care provider, local health department, local pharmacy or visit the to find out where flu shots are available.

Health officials encourage people to seek treatment if experiencing flu symptoms. If started within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms, antivirals may help shorten the duration or lessen the severity of the flu.

Department of Public Health: Get Flu Shot before season’s peak

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.

  1. CLEAN – Wash your hands often. Scrub your hands for at least 30 seconds with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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 or dial 2-1-1.

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