While many people associate the flu with cold weather, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting a shot as soon as the vaccine becomes available. It is really never too early – or too late – to get vaccinated.
“It takes about two weeks for the protection to kick in after a flu shot is administered. While it may seem like the sooner the better, the greatest benefit of getting vaccinated now may be peace of mind,” said Primary Care Director Nicholas Masozera, M.D.
Free flu shots are now available for Veterans, Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston and its outpatient clinics in Beaumont, Conroe, Galveston, Lufkin, Richmond, and Texas City.
In Houston, patients should report to their Primary Care Clinic:
Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, 2002 Holcombe Blvd. Houston, TX 77030
At the outpatient clinics, go to the front desk and a health care provider will administer flu shots:
Beaumont VA Outpatient Clinic, 3420 Veterans Circle, Beaumont, TX 77707
Conroe VA Outpatient Clinic, 800 Riverwood Ct, Ste 100, Conroe, TX 77304
Galveston VA Outpatient Clinic, 3828 Avenue N, Galveston, TX 77550
Charles Wilson VA Outpatient Clinic, Lufkin - Please call 936-671-4300 for scheduled flu shot clinics.
Richmond VA Outpatient Clinic, 22001 Southwest Freeway, Suite 200, Richmond, TX 77469
Texas City VA Outpatient Clinic, 9300 Emmett F. Lowry Expressway, Suite 206, Texas City, TX 77591
A new VA outpatient clinic in Lake Jackson will open for patient care on October 11, 2011. The clinic will be located at 208 South Oak Drive, Suites 700 and 800, Lake Jackson, 77566 near the Post Office and the Brazosport Regional Health System complex.
An average of 36,000 Americans die each year from influenza and many of them are the unvaccinated elderly. No vaccine is 100 percent effective, but the flu vaccine very clearly decreases the chance of severe illness, death, hospitalizations, and lost work days.
Flu shots do not cause flu illness. The influenza viruses contained in a flu shot are inactivated (killed), which means they cannot cause infection. Flu vaccine manufacturers kill the viruses used in the vaccine during the process of making vaccine, and batches of flu vaccine are tested to make sure they are safe. In randomized, blind studies, where some people get flu shots and others get salt-water shots, the only differences in symptoms was increased soreness in the arm and redness at the injection site among people who got the flu shot. There were no differences in terms of body aches, fever, cough, runny nose, or sore throat.
For more information about influenza and the flu vaccine, contact the Preventive Medicine Program at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center at 713-794-8768 or visit the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/flu.
And remember, it is important for everyone use good hygiene practices to prevent the spread of disease. Wash your hands frequently.