If it seems like everyone around you is sneezing or coughing, you’re not wrong.
On average, each flu season, Texas physicians see about 2 to 3 percent of patients with flu-like symptoms; at the peak of flu season, that number can reach 6 percent. This year, the percentage already tops 13 percent.
Hospitals across the state are experiencing an influx of patients with flu; in some cases, going on “medical divert” to transfer patients to other facilities because they are at capacity. Flu season can run as long as through May so it could be a long winter and spring ahead.
As THA prioritizes supporting our hospitals, we are working to help them communicate what they need to state and federal agencies, particularly as they deal with shortages of key supplies, such as IV fluids, already in short supply as a result of production shutdowns brought on by Hurricane Maria.
Another way we can help is to spread the word about flu prevention and help patients seek the appropriate care for their symptoms.
The flu vaccine is still available from primary care providers across the state. Public health experts recommend that everyone over the age of 6 months receive the flu shot, as it can minimize the severity and length of illness even if it doesn’t prevent it.
Citizens with minor, non life-threatening flu symptoms are encouraged to contact their primary care providers for guidance and treatment rather than immediately seeking care in hospital emergency departments. In addition, family and friends of patients should avoid visiting.
Hopefully, we’ve seen the worst of the 2017-18 flu season, although with four months left to go, it’s possible that the flu will continue to spread. Everyone needs to do their part to help in prevention, while Texas hospitals will do theirs in treatment and care.