Although flu season is well underway, the virus still has more than two months to run its course — and it’s not too late to get a flu shot, said a local registered nurse specializing in infection prevention.
“There is still time to get the flu shot. Flu season generally is considered to run its course by the end of March,” said Lareine Rickmon, a registered nurse specializing in infection prevention at Seton Medical Center Harker Heights. “This is usually about the time when those people who are most at risk may consider getting a second dose.”
Rickmon said Seton tested 844 patients for the flu since Sept. 28; of those, 178 tested positive — mostly with Type A influenza — and 16 were admitted into the hospital.
If everyone were to get a flu shot, the chances of the virus spreading would decrease, Rickmon said.
“Those who couldn’t receive the shot because of allergic reactions to it would be protected as well because there would be less risk of exposure,” she said.
Joe Considine, assistant director of the emergency room at Metroplex Hospital, said the hospital has seen an increase in the number of patients it’s treating on a daily basis, but not necessarily because the flu season is worse than in previous years.
“I think with the emphasis that is being put on the flu by the news media, we have better awareness that is encouraging people to seek treatment earlier on when they recognize the symptoms of the flu,” he said.
Of the total number of patients going into the hospital, about 8 percent are seeking treatment for flu-like symptoms, Considine said, and of that number, 8 percent are testing positive for the virus.
Jamie Jones, a nurse practitioner at Metroplex, said the flu season could last through April or May and it’s “definitely not” too late to get a flu shot.
“The important thing is, most people get over the flu on their own — they stay home and (take medications,) drink a lot of fluids and stay away from others so they don’t spread it,” she said. “That is one of the most important things to stress, so it doesn’t spread.”
Metroplex is offering free flu shots to residents ages 6 months and older from 1 to 5 p.m. Jan. 30 in the hospital’s main conference room, 2201 S. Clear Creek Road. The vaccines will be administered by health professionals on a first-come, first-serve basis.