Texas ranks #1 for flu activity

Photo: Walgreens

Texas ranks number one in the nation for flu activity, followed by Arkansas, according to Walgreens's flu index map.

As of Jan. 4, Beaumont-Port Arthur was the fifth highest area with flu activity, Walgreens reported, preceded by Tyler-Longview ranking number one, Harlingen and McAllen ranking second, Waco and Temple ranking third, and Houston being fourth on the list.

The Galveston County Health District (GCHD) is continuing to offer flu vaccines at no-cost while supplies last, GCHD staff said in a statement Jan. 2.

Free vaccines were being offered Tuesday, Jan. 2 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m and Wednesday Jan. 3 through Friday Jan. 5 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.at the GCHD Immunization Clinic in Texas City, Wednesday Jan. 3 and Friday Jan. 5 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the GCHD WIC Clinic in Dickinson and Thursday, Jan. 4 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Hitchcock Chamber of Commerce.

GCHD reported that so far this flu season, 2,126 confirmed cases of the flu have been reported to GCHD, compared to just 185 during the same period last season, which is an increase from the 1,017 confirmed cases in GCHD's statement Dec. 26.

The GCHD said that while healthcare providers are not required to report cases of the flu to their local health department, reported cases are a good indication of the overall trend.

Galveston County Local Health Authority Dr. Philip Keiser called the increase "dramatic" and said that the "early season spike could be an indication of a long and nasty flu season yet to come.”

“We want to make it as convenient as possible for people to get this important vaccination and that’s why we’re continuing to offer these no-cost flu shot clinics,” said Kathy Barroso, GCHD CEO, in a Jan. 3 statement.

GCHD recommends that anyone 6 months of age and older should receive the vaccine, especially high-risk groups like pregnant women, people 65 years and older, and those with chronic health conditions.

Jefferson County Public Health Department did not respond to immediate request for comment.