80,000 flu-related deaths last year; CDC says get your flu shot ASAP

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The 2017-2018 flu season was the deadliest in decades. The Centers for Disease Control says about 80,000 Americans died last winter because of the flu or from complications caused by the virus. 

This year, they’re urging everyone 6 months and older to get a flu shot by the end of October. 

“I’m scared,” said Fiona Bueche while waiting at Pediatric Associates of Austin to get her flu shot.

Bueche, 7-years-old, said she was there with her mother and older brother because when the family skipped the vaccine a couple years ago, “We all got sick on my brother’s birthday. I coughed a lot. I didn’t like it. We all didn’t feel good.”

“We want everybody vaccinated who can get vaccinated,” said Dr. Ryan McCorkle, Emergency Medicine Physician at St. David’s Medical Center.

McCorkle said, “We see flu-like illness 12 months a year, but this flu season’s already started. We’ve seen some flu positive patients in the last few weeks, and it’s definitely starting to ramp up.”

Pediatrician Sam Mirrop at Pediatric Associates of Austin said he’s seen some young flu patients at his practice as well. 

“We’ve seen a few cases here,” he said. “I have spoken with some adult doctors as well, and they’re seeing quite a bit of flu already.”

There’s some optimism that this flu season may not be as bad as last year because Australia’s season was milder. 

Dr. Phil Huang, Austin Public Health’s Medical Director and Health Authority, told KXAN doctors monitor Australia’s flu season during their winter, our summer. But that doesn’t mean you can let your guard down.

“You don’t know how each individual will respond to a bad disease,” said Mirrop. “You still have to assume it’s going to be bad until you know, and most of the time, you know way after the fact. That’s just a predictor in Australia. It’s not necessarily 100%.”

Last year, 180 children in the U.S. died from flu-related illnesses, according to the CDC. About 80 percent of them didn’t get the flu vaccine. 

“We want everybody vaccinated who can get vaccinated,” said McCorkle. “That’s everybody 6 months and up.”

FLU CLINICS AT UT AUSTIN

Over at UT Austin, University Health Services is offering a flu clinic through October 18th. 

“It’s not too early to get the flu shot. It takes about two weeks to develop protection after you get the vaccine,” said Charlotte Katzin, Nurse Manager with University Health Services.

The school kicked off its Flu Shot Campaign and has 13,000 shots available. They said students and staff under 65 years old with UT Select insurance can get the flu vaccine through their plans. Those without can get it for $10.

Jaime Davis was there to get her flu shot. She said she gets the vaccine every year. Last year, she said, “I mean I got a cold. But as far as the flu season goes, I didn’t. I haven’t gotten the flu for many years. I’m not even sure when I got the flu last.”

The university is also entering a National Flu Shot contest with other campuses to see who can administer the most shots.

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