EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — This week marks the beginning of National Influenza Vaccination week and here in El Paso, there’s been a significant increase of flu cases this year.
The Department of Public Health urges people to get vaccinated to help stop the spread of the virus.
During this time last season, there were 194 cases of the flu reported in El Paso. Now, the number has spiked to 414 cases reported this season.
As the numbers of flu cases increase in the Borderland, it’s also raising the concerns of some parents such as Saul Macias Jr.
“We’ve been vaccinating our kids for a long time. I don’t think we should stop, unless we want to take a step back in time. I think we should be moving forward and not back to be honest,” Macias told KTSM.
Influenza is a very contagious disease that could result to multiple flu complications. This includes possibilities of pneumonia, bacterial infections, or even death.
“I definitely feel that the more parents want to shy away from getting their kids vacc’d, I think it’ll affect the healthy kids,” Macias said.
Doctors continue to warn the public of some of the symptoms, and say those who have high risks at getting influenza complications are:
-Seniors who are 65 years or older
-Those who already have chronic health conditions
“When you have the flu, you know you have the flu. fevers, aches and pains, coughs. when you look at the flu virus, you have a virus that’s very aggressive. it’s a respiratory illness,” Edmundo Rosales, a Physician in Internal Medicine said.
However there are ways of prevention along with getting the flu vaccination, such as avoiding contact with others if you’re sick and basic sanitary practices.
“Me and my wife, and our house, like I said we have a sick child. As soon as anyone walks in we make sure to wash our hands with medical grade soap. Kind of like how nurses would scrub in once per day. Scrub in and get yourself a really deep clean with a really strong soap,” Macias shared.
Macias also reminds parents to be more mindful of preventing their kids from getting sick so that it doesn’t risk the health of others who may already deal with an illness.
“Kids who are really sick like my kid, when they get the flu it’s not just the flu. It could lead to something way worse like life or death for kids who aren’t as strong as other kids,” Macias shared.
As for the rest of Texas, there are over 12,000 cases of the flu reported in mid-November. That’s 1,000 more cases compared to last year.
The Department of Public Health Immunization program is working with the Medicaid Waiver program to offer influenza vaccines at no cost to children between 6 months – 18 years old who qualify under the TVFC guidelines. It will also be offered to uninsured adults 19 years or older who qualify under the Medicaid Waiver guidelines.
These vaccines will be available on Wednesday, December 4th at the following locations:
– Ysleta Health Center, 110 Candelaria Rd. 79907
– Henderson Health Center, 721 S. Mesa 79901