Doctors: Still time to get flu vaccine
and RSV season, Checchia and others said. But it’s too early to be sure, and some locations aren’t experiencing an uptick. Spokeswomen for Austin Diagnostic Clinic and St. David’s HealthCare facilities said they haven’t seen much flu or RSV.
On Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Texas was one of five states with higher-thannormal flu cases for this time of year.
RSV and flu are common, easy-to-spread illnesses. Both feature cold-like symptoms, such as a cough and runny nose, but flu is distinguished by body aches, chills, nausea and often a fever. Almost every child contracts RSV by age 2, and in adulthood, it mimics the common cold.
While most children and adults recover without complications, flu is hardest on elderly people and babies, while RSV poses the greatest risk to premature infants and very young children with heart, lung or immune disorders.
Every year, about 125,000 U.S. infants are hospitalized with RSV and about 1 percent die, Checchia said. For high-risk children, however, the death rate can be 35 percent, he said.
This year’s flu vaccine is highly effective in guarding against the three flu strains that are circulating, but there is no common vaccine for RSV. Children at risk for serious illness from RSV can receive a monthly injection of the drug palivizumab during the season.
The Department of State Health Services website reports that the flu season started Sept. 30 in Texas. RSV has been climbing since early October. Flu season typically runs from October to May, while RSV season usually is November through March, the CDC said.
“Anecdotally, we’ve heard from providers in Galveston and Houston that the RSV season came early there, and the illness has been more severe in terms of the number of hospitalizations and necessary treatments,” Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the state health department, wrote in an email. “We haven’t heard about an increased severity of illness here.”
In November, Dell Children’s staff saw nearly 9,000 children with respiratory illnesses, close to the number seen in November 2009, when the H1N1 swine flu was spreading, Crocker said. Neither he nor the Austin/ Travis County Health and Human Services Department knew of any deaths so far this season.
Austin Regional Clinic also is seeing more flu and RSV cases for this time of year, spokeswoman Lynda Shanblum said.
“It’s not too late to get immunized” against flu, said Dr. Jean Peters-Do with Texas MedClinic, where flu cases also are up.
Checchia agreed, adding: “First and foremost, the best way to avoid either of these is diligent hand washing.” opponents and supporters, including families who have chosen to send their children to IDEA Allan, which opened in August and serves 544 students in kindergarten through second grades and in sixth grade.
“We have to find a way to co-exist” with charters, said Trustee Lori Moya. “I don’t think it’s fair for us to make a compromise, without asking what they (the parents of IDEA students) want for their children.”
In other action that puts the brakes on another administration plan, trustees directed Carstarphen to remove the proposed all-boys school from a list of facility recommendations the board will consider Dec. 17.
Weeks ago, the board appeared likely to establish the school at the Alternative Learning Center. The Galveston-based Moody Foundation, which provides grants for education and community development, previously donated $4.6 million for planning the school.
But it would still cost more than $20 million to retrofit the building, money that would probably come from bonds. At least two new board members have questioned the cost.
School board President Vince Torres, who was first elected to the board in 2006, said since the board appeared to be split on the issue, it should defer action for now. “There’s not strong enough support,” he said.
In November, Dell Children’s Medical Center saw nearly 9,000 children with respiratory illnesses, said Dr. Pat Crocker, emergency services chief.