While many people associate the flu with cold weather, the Center 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, Lake Jackson, 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 check-in desk:
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
Lake Jackson VA Outpatient Clinic, 208 South Oak Drive, Suites 700 & 800, Lake Jackson, TX 77566
Charles Wilson VA Outpatient Clinic, 2206 North John Redditt Drive, Lufkin, TX 75904-1776
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
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.
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Awarded re-designation for Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Services in 2008, the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center serves as the primary health care provider for more than 130,000 Veterans in southeast Texas and provides some of the most complex care within the VA Health Care System. The DeBakey VA employs nearly 3,600 staff and is one of 49 institutions within the prestigious Texas Medical Center, one of the largest health and research centers in the world. The DeBakey VA is home to a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Clinic; Network Polytrauma Center; award-winning Cardiac and General Surgery Program; Liver Transplant Center; Epilepsy and Cancer Centers of Excellence; Substance Abuse Disorder Quality Enhancement Research Initiative; Health Services Research & Development Center of Excellence; Rehabilitation Research of Excellence focusing on mild to moderate traumatic brain injury; Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center; $26.8 million Research and Development Program; and Parkinson’s Disease Research, Education, and Clinical Center. The hospital offers sophisticated, cutting-edge technology such as PET/CT imaging, the Evident™ microwave ablation system, a CyberKnife®, a Varian Trilogy linear accelerator, a Philips Wide Bore Computed Tomography Simulator, the OR•Control System, the Abiomed Impella 2.5 catheter-based heart pump, and the Sapien heart valve. For more than 60 years, the DeBakey VA has served as the primary teaching facility for our major affiliate, Baylor College of Medicine and operates one of the largest VA residency programs in the nation. Each academic year, more than 2,179 students are trained through 194 affiliation agreements with institutions of higher learning. Including the outpatient clinics in Beaumont, Conroe, Galveston, Houston, Lufkin, Richmond, and Texas City, MEDVAMC outpatient clinics logged almost 1.3 million outpatient visits in fiscal year 2011.
For the latest news releases and information about the MEDVAMC, visit www.houston.va.gov.