ABILENE, Texas - Vaccines that have been formulated to combat the flu this year are likely to be more effective, according to local health officials.
There is more than one strain of the flu that can make people sick.
Last year, health officials feared the shot that was being administered nationally was not a good match for the strain that caused an epidemic. Kay Durilla with the Abilene-Taylor County Public Health District said this year, for the first time, the vaccine includes additional strains and will likely pack more of a punch.
The flu kills thousands of Americans each year. The health district hosted a flu clinic Monday for people to get vaccinated.
"It's very important," Jean Claude Mukiza, who has had the flu in the past, said as he prepared to get his flu shot Monday. Chad Ballentine summed up his reason for getting vaccinated with "better safe than sorry."
Durilla said everyone 6-months and older should get vaccinated since the flu can easily be prevented that way.
Risk groups for the flu include young children, adults 65 and older, pregnant women and people with weak immune systems and conditions such as heart, lung or kidney disease. Stronger doses are available for those 65 and older.
"We want to try and get as many people vaccinated this year as we can to help cut down those complicated issues with more serious illnesses," Durilla said. "Especially ones leading to pneumonia and hospitalizations--and we definitely want to cut down the deaths."
Preventative measures do not end with vaccines.
"Cough in your sleeve, sneeze in your sleeve, wash your hands," Durilla said. "Wash[ing] your hands is the most important thing to help stop the spread of these illnesses."
The health district will resume regular immunization clinics Tuesday. The clinic is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Flu vaccines cost $20.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some people are not encouraged to get the flu vaccine. Some people suffering from life-threatening allergies or have had a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome may not be able to get the vaccine. If you've recently been vaccinated against other diseases or are not feeling well, your doctor may encourage you to wait before getting a flu vaccine.